“This is much cooler,” I thought to myself as I strolled to my office one September morning in Qatar. “Much more pleasant.”
Then I glanced at the thermometer – 37 degrees Celsius, and realized just how much I had acclimatized. After all 37 degrees is not so hot when temperatures have reached 50 degrees in the peak of summer.
Now the temperature is hotting up again. Already I have scalded the unmentionable parts of my body with the toilet hose. (Ah yes – Asian/Arab toilets – best left for another article).
Having a bath is impossible in the middle of the day – even the cold tap comes out with boiling hot water. The best thing to do is fill up the bath and leave it cool down for a few hours – and try and ignore your smelly and sweaty body.
The sun has also caused a trip to the local garage. After I foolishly left it out in the sun all the rubber melted from around the back windows.
But perhaps we shouldn’t moan. After all the Bedouin survived in the desert for thousands of years without a problem, whereas we have cool houses and air-conditioning which – though they don’t quite defeat the heat, at least hold it off somehow.
France Gillespie, in her book Discovering Qatar describes how explorers mapping Qatar took an old Bedouin lady – famed for her knowledge of the desert and place names – out on a desert trip.
Unfortunately their car broke down and they were left for several hours with insufficient supplies of water. When they were finally picked up, only one of them was completely unaffected – the elderly Bedouin lady.
It’s easy to forget that air-conditioning is in fact a relatively new invention. Even now, the air-conditioners of many of the immigrant workers crammed into labour camps are only turned on two months of the year.
The heat is obviously too much to bear, as most of them sleep on their roofs at night in the summer.
Whether they have AC or not, many still have to work outside in the day. I can’t even imagine what this is like – I have a headache and feel dehydrated after ten minutes outside.
Still, I, like many western expats am spoilt. Thesiger the desert explorer maintained that “the harder the life the finer the people”. If this true, us rich western expats must be very poor people indeed.