Observing life: As summer approaches in the UAE, time to dig out the winter coats

As summer approaches and the mercury creeps relentlessly higher, it is, confusingly, time to dig out those winter coats. I’m talking, of course, about air conditioning. I don’t know what it is about businesses and public spaces in the UAE, but they all seem to follow some unwritten rule that as soon as temperatures outside […]

As summer approaches and the mercury creeps relentlessly higher, it is, confusingly, time to dig out those winter coats.

I’m talking, of course, about air conditioning. I don’t know what it is about businesses and public spaces in the UAE, but they all seem to follow some unwritten rule that as soon as temperatures outside start to creep into the mid-30s, temperatures inside should fall in direct proportion, usually to around the ambient feel of a supermarket’s frozen-food aisle.

I’m not suggesting we should attempt to go without aircon, but when diners in restaurants are wrapped in parkas and cinemas are handing out blankets to shivering filmgoers in the posh seats, surely it’s a sign that they could crank it up a degree or two?

In fact, in the run-up to my very first summer in the country, I contracted severe pneumonia. I can’t say with certainty what caused it, and the doctors didn’t give me any indication, but let’s just say it was in May, the month when traditionally the indoor/­outdoor-temperature differential takes on San Andreas Trench-like proportions and your body goes through severe shock every time you risk entering or exiting a door.

Coincidence? You decide.

Another thing I can’t fail to notice when summer comes around these days is just how accustomed I’ve become to the heat after six years in the country.

I made this year’s first tentative trip to my building’s pool last week, in mid-May, and even then I found myself gingerly dipping my toe in the water and complaining it was too cold. Five years ago I’d have been jumping in and out and splashing around like an excited toddler in the middle of January.

I remember in my first year in the country, I wore a jacket but once.

Nowadays, it’s not unusual to find me still wearing a jacket in the middle of June. Not if I’m going for a run or sitting on the beach, obviously, but a short walk to the shops or a quick coffee by the Marina? Sure, I wouldn’t want to catch a chill, after all.

I suppose it’s only natural that the human body adapts to the environment around it, but there’s only so much it can take – something shopkeepers and restaurateurs might like to bear in mind next time they crank the dial down.

There’s a reason so many Arctic explorers fail to return from their trips – the human body isn’t a fish finger. As Captain Lawrence Oates might have said before going out for dinner in the UAE in July: “I’m just going inside and may be some time.”

cnewbould@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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