Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What I did on my Summer Vacation

If you have any brains, you leave Dubai for at least a couple of weeks during the months of July and August to escape the worst of the heat. Him indoors and I have failed to do that in both 2011 and 2012 and therefore consider ourselves battle-hardened UAE summer veterans.

As a friend of the Sand Warlock's who has recently moved to Dubai pointed out recently: "People talk about the weather a lot here, don't they?" Er, yes. They do. Now that I've been here 18 months, I have thankfully stopped receiving what I refer to as 'the Inward Whistle of Summer'. The IWS is usually preceded by the following conversation:

THEM: How long have you been  in Dubai?

YOU: About three months (or period of time short enough to denote the fact that you have not yet experienced the summer heat yet).

THEM: So, you have not done a summer yet? *Inward Whistle of Summer*

This is followed by tales of how the cold water comes out of the taps hot, (true) the pavements melt (they don't) they know several people who spontaneously died of heatstroke when they stepped outside for more than two minutes, (doubtful) how the government lies and pretends the temperature has stayed below 50degrees when in fact it was, like, 55 man, (because they have to give the outside workers permission to stop working  when it goes above that temperature). You get the picture. I don't know why people feel the need to tell you about the heat. Everyone knows about it before they come here, and while it's true, you can't know what it is really like until you have experienced it, but here's a clue: Turn on oven, stand next to oven for about five minutes. Put face near lit light bulb. That's what it's like. I have promised myself that if I find myself giving the IWS to a new Dubai arrival, I shall give myself an inward slap.

So, no, we haven't managed to leave Dubai during the two hottest months, apart from one night in Ras Al Khaimah for my birthday. One of the reasons for this is that I am one of the few people in the UAE for whom the summer is actually quite a productive time. As anyone with a brain, including a lot of journalists, leaves for at least a couple of weeks, publications need freelancers to cover their work, so that's where I come in and that's why I haven't updated in a while.

Now, there's a protracted excuse for not updating, if ever I heard one. It's better than 'the dog ate it', but still.

What I have been doing in between assignments is playing with one of my birthday presents, a rather snazzy camera.

If you will excuse me banging on about the heat a little more, who knew that just as glasses steam up when you step out of the air conditioning into the heat, so too does a camera lens:

This photo looks like there's mist coming off the sea on to the palm trees outside the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah where we went for my birthday, but no, it's the condensation from the temperature variation of around 20 degrees from inside to out.

In other news, our transport to and from RAK was this car:

It's an Infiniti convertible which I can say with my new-found knowledge of car journalism is as nice to drive as any other Infiniti that I have driven and has the added bonus of having an amusing story involving a crushed suitcase attached to it.

The short version is: I have never driven a convertible before and did not know that it is ill-advised to leave luggage in the boot when you go about opening the roof. Thus, there was a sickening crunch as our suitcase had the life crushed out of it and some humiliating moments as the Sand Warlock, I, and several staff members from the hotel struggled to free it from the mechanism (in 49degree heat, remember, so that was sweaty) while panicking that we had knackered said roof. Luckily, it was not knackered, but goodness me, the sales guy who fixed the test drive for me didn't half go pale when I told him that anecdote. Still, no harm done and once I bashed the dent back out of the suitcase, it was as good as new.

We also had a brief visit from the Sand Warlock's cousin last month, and while I was being particularly snarky and moany about life in Dubai, as one is wont to do due to issues such is ridiculous cost of living, painful levels of bureaucracy, unbearable summer heat (sorry again) he pointed out that our life appears to be pretty nice, actually, particularly considering this is the view from our balcony:

The Burj Khalifa, at my favourite time of day, as the sun's setting. The lens is still a bit steamy in the first couple as I just noticed the sun was going down and I wanted to get a some pictures. It's more or less the view I have from my desk. It's probably responsible for about 40 per cent of my procrastinating, that which isn't taken up with Facebook, Twitter, reading the news online and wondering why no one has emailed me in the past five minutes, that is.

Another diversion in these past couple of weeks has been the Spider men, the dudes, that have been abseiling down the side of the building to clean the balcony glass. Here is one of them in action.

No, it's not a Ninja but a high-rise window cleaner. Our building is 35 floors high, we're on the 22nd floor, so rather him than me, and more so with these dudes, who you can just about see working on the Burj: *shudders*

Clue, they're just above the second balcony from the bottom on the left hand side.

Anyway, we have now officially broken the back of the summer heat. I know it's official because we are being promised rain, that's right rain! Well, I say we, not us at all, but Emirates to the north and east, according to Emirates 24/7, and according to 7Days, some cooler temperatures. And, I went for a run at about 6.15am some time last week, and, wait for it, the heat wasn't totally unbearable.

So, now that the schools are back, and most people are back in Dubai that are coming back, I can tell them that's What I did on my Summer Vacation.


  1. Imo, can't you create a like button for your posts? I've just read all the way to the bottom and would like you to know that I like what I've read.

  2. That's nice of you. :) There is no like button that I'm aware of on blogspot. Maybe someone who is better at computers could enlighten me if there is? You can share to Facebook or Twitter if you're that way inclined to show likingness.
    All the cool kids seem to blog on wordpress these days so perhaps I will go there and see if they have a like button and potentially relocate.