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Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Dog Days of Summer

It is now August in Abu Dhabi which means running from one air conditioned space to another as efficiently as possible. Outdoor diversions are not practical or healthy so most residents spend the Summer behind closed doors. Expat spouses and children usually high-tail it back to their countries of origin to wait out the brutal Gulf climate in more temperate areas while the kids are out of school. Even the shortest automobile trip will turn you into a "wetback" as the car's A/C struggles to transform 120 degree air into a more comfortable temperature. It's usually a losing battle.

Another trait of Summer here is the haze. I shot the photo above at noon local time today from my balcony at the Moonbase 20 miles West of Abu Dhabi City. You can see that the visibility is severely hampered by the crud in the air. Most of my life I lived in the Southeastern U. S. and expected Summers to be a little hazy due to inversions and hydrocarbon emissions from pine trees and such, but the haze here is over the top!

The origin of the haze is a mystery to me. It is not fog. The wind is not strong enough today to kick up a dust storm. It is not pollution or smog, there is no smell. Not enough natural vegetation exists here for their emissions to be a factor. I am stumped! I can only guess that this is dust blown from far away and it is settling here. But then I remember that I also lived in a desert environment in Southwestern Utah which should have been similarly affected by dust from neighboring regions too but the Summer skies there are clear and blue. In other seasons, the Abu Dhabi skies are normal. Maybe Iran is testing some nerve gas, I don't know!

Anyway, because of the Summer climate here people are afflicted with a malaise that is usually associated with the Arctic regions, Cabin Fever. This is where the outside environment is at the least uncomfortable and at the most life-threatening so people tend to stay inside for extended periods of time which eventually drives them crazy from boredom.

How individuals deal with this depends on their situation and character. I am lucky as I don't have a spouse, children or a roommate so I deal with it by surfing the net, emails, Facebook, blogging, cooking, Playstation 3 and accelerated rates of alcohol consumption. I can't get in much trouble doing these. A side effect is that I am saving a boatload of money and the quiet afternoon naps are great. When the weather moderates, I will be back to my old restless self again looking for trouble and excitement. Also, I have a lot of leave left so I have some long weekends planned in more Northern latitudes in the next couple of months.

It must be much tougher for those that are living in close proximity to a roommate, spouse and offspring. Little things quickly become big things and soon divorce and/or manslaughter seem to be reasonable and thoughtful ways to relieve the boredom. As I have said before, if you plan to relocate here with a family make damn sure you all know what you are getting in to and that your bonds are strong. This is no place to come to with the idea that a "change of scenery" will revitalize a relationship.

Tomorrow (August 3) will mark my first anniversity here with boots on the ground in the Emirates. I have learned many things and gone through a lot of ups and downs in the past 12 months. Although it hasn't been all good or all bad, I feel this experience has enriched my life and that I would have ended up regretting it if I had not accepted the challenge. More about this soon in a future blog...stay tuned, don't touch that dial!

1 comment:

Neil Roberts said...

My understanding is that the dust comes from sand storms in northern Iraq finding their way down here... wherever i comes from it's pretty nasty! Mind you, it has kept the temperatures down a bit.... relatively speaking!