Thursday, July 01, 2010
Summer in the Desert
Al Ain means the Eye
the garden city of the U.A.E.has been home to me for the last three years
It reminds me a lot of New Delhi .
Wide neat roads lined by greenery and flowers ,No high rises ( AlAin allows no high rises ) and a similar extreme climate
From October till April it is cool and pleasant ,
to make up for this the rest of the months are torridly hot ,
As summer advances it becomes a furnace and like Delhi the humidity is non existent so one does not sweat like a pig but only bakes like one !
With the mercury hitting almost 50 degrees celsius daytime lasting till about 7 pm and nights uncomfortably warm of the unenjoyable kind .
Airconditioning of course saves the day ,
My hospital is so cold at times we even shiver ,and the car AC isnt bad for an older version of Camry except once when the AC gas was low ,
The trick was to venture out only after 9 pm for the mandatory walk or in the dawn ,
I landed here in july and felt like being thrown into a fireball as I stepped out of Abudhabi airport,
The Hilton my home for the first month or so ,was as cool as a cucmber and the hospital car which picked me up daily before I got my coveted licence to ply one ,was cool too in spite of the talkative Pakistani drivers and a particularly talkative Mallu , one who was into stockmarkets and wanted the daily report from my Gulf news copy
( a subject in which I was totally unintrested just like sports ! )
It was a shock those days for me .
I still remember my bravado in taking a walk on Day two from my brother in laws house to view a nearby mall on a scorching friday afternoon promptly losing my way and searching for the house in deserted streets ,I almost died of a sunstroke that day with my in law calling me foolish to do such things in this place in summer !
With time I got wise and would rarely venture out without an AC coccon
Malls were great summer places as they were cool in climate and in visual delights of the consumer and the human kind !
Of course a swim at around 8 pm was heavenly with the water relatively cool and cleansing .
The zoo too has its night safari specials during summer but wonder what the animals do in the daytime !
The plight of labourers in the hot sun is terrible ,but the Government has made rest between 12 noon and 3 pm compulsory and made it mandatory that they are provided with airconditoned rest places
( our commies could learn a lesson from here ........they only exploit workers but never do anything for them )
The Jebel Hafeet a hill near the city would be a formidable place to go in the summer but its bare rocks could make you into a KFC special
The same AlAin demands light wollens during december and walking along the fully blown colourful flowers wearing a coat over the jeans and if possible a golfcap listening to good music was a pleasurable pastime to me
The good things about summer was that clothes got dry in a jiffy !
One could eat ice cream in tons if one didnt look down at the growing paunch !
and there was no need to off the Ac at midnite for fear of being frozen !
Traffic too was less as most of the citizens leave the place for summer vacation ,but getting into the car out in the sun for a long time was another thing ,the seat belt buckles could burn you and for the first five minutes one wouldnt dare touch the steering without a kerchief !
Long rides to Dubai and /Abudhabi are pleasurable too ,
once some friends and yours truly cruised off to distant Al Ruwais and Mirfi a beach resort with black long roads glimmering in the haze
with an angry purple sun directing his glare through the windshield ,the car AC barely won the battle .
One could see mirages of pools of water in the road ahead which disappeared as one reached them ,
slumbering on the drive was a distinct possiblity in such somnambulitic environments with the music driving your lids down ,sidewalk rest places ,hot mallu chais and some times a quick smoke were the only saviours against possible disasters looming ahead .
with all its glory summers arent my thing having lived in hot Chennai all my childhood I never liked hot places ( though always loved other hotter possibilities ! kidding of course )
The Arabs are a hardy lot to have inhabited a place like this and making it a paradise ,
one just could not think of an AC less U.A.E which did exist a few decades back as my uncle who had migrated here in the fifties and rose to the top used to recount ,those days all they had were fans which churned out hot air !
The recently introduced long Mercedes public buses are a great boon for those without cars ,to travel across the city in comfort ,
some years back the bus system was not so organised and older buses were never so sleek .
Maybe tomorrow will bring an envelope of glass around the city to make it the first totally airconditoned city
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