by Asyraf Mutalib
Initially, I was going to name this post as My Summer Experience but then I realized that the summer solstice isn’t until the next eight days (as of 13/6/15). Giving such a title would be an overstatement because I haven’t even lived through half the season, yet.
A couple of years prior to moving to Riyadh, my parents had the opportunity to perform Umrah during the school break in June. After what seemed like the longest two weeks of my life, they came home.
My dad once said about it being so hot that it felt like his face was on fire. Another thing that was told to me numerous times- even before departing- that the heat here is different from the one we experience in Malaysia. They call it dry heat (ironically, that word used to give me the chills). To make things worse, my mother who has also spent a couple of years living in Australia told me about her experience with dry heat in the land down under. She told me that it was so hot that the skin becomes dry before cracking. Even the lips may bleed. Can you imagine how terrifying it would be to have chapped, bleeding lips? It’s bleeding AND it’s also chapped!
Those ‘heartwarming’ stories eventually lead me to create my own definition of dry heat:
DRY HEAT: The kind of heat that is so intense that you don’t sweat.
“Oh, and your body starts oozing with blood!”
I could have added that to the definition but I was too focused on the intense heat part that upon my arrival to this country in February, I was surprised that it was cool!
Fast forward to late April, I had my first encounter with this dry heat thing. It was 40°C that day (24/4/15). My parents and I went to this place which unfortunately for me wasn’t roofed. It was something similar to a car boot sale except there weren’t any cars there but just a sea of random things laid on asphalt. After strolling the area for less than ten minutes, I concluded that this dry heat thing was a lie.
My face flushed from the heat. It was very hot that I could already feel the tan forming on my skin.
Here’s the truth: You actually do sweat. I had a lot of it trickling from my forehead and surprise surprise, the underarm area of my grey shirt was also wet from sweat!
The blame is actually on me because I was so into this so-hot-that-you-don’t-sweat kind of heat that lead me to believe that I can go out under the blazing sun without sweating. I tricked myself!
I’ll now try to describe in the most accurate way possible about some other things I’ve experienced during this pre-summer period:
•We have a very well hidden water tank on the rooftop that blends seamlessly with the building. Before my father pointed out that this huge thing on the rooftop is a water tank, I thought that our tank was under the building because the water coming out usually felt like ice water. Now with summer on the way, I long for a tiny bit of that freezing water. I think the best way to describe the temperature of the water is this:
It’s a little after 1 p.m and you just came back from school. Your body is sweaty and sticky so you proceed to take a shower. You turn the tap on and smile with happiness as soon as the cold water touches your skin but suddenly it becomes scorching hot. You jump out of the water for a while and after that you continue your shower like nothing happened.
I’m sure most of us have been through this kind of situation, especially on hot days.
Now imagine this:
You turn the tap on and smile with happiness as soon as the cold water touches your skin but suddenly it becomes scorching hot. You jump out of the water for a while and let the hot water pass for a minute. You feel it but it is still hot. You wait for another minute. No change. Then you wait some more. After waiting for fifteen minutes, the water is still hot! You
give up and walk out of the shower.close your eyes and just shower because there’s no other option.
That is basically how the water feels like nowadays. If I had a thermometer to measure its precise magnitude, I’d definitely write it here.
•The Middle East is often associated with hot temperatures and deserts. Since I’ve talked about the heat, I’m now going to talk about something along the lines of the latter.
This city where I live in is located in the middle of nowhere. Try looking up Riyadh in the map and you’ll see that you can reach the nearest town after a few hours of driving. Viewed from above, you’ll also notice that it’s surrounded by sand.
It’s pretty windy here and the breeze isn’t fun at all- it’s hot. It’s uncomfortable and it carries sand.
It’s 40 degrees outside and I happen to have to walk to this place not far from my house. As I walk, the wind blows hot air and it hits my body. “Definitely not the best kind of breeze,” I whisper to myself. Then I feel something funny in my mouth so I move my teeth about to find out what it is. Sand!
I’m not joking! It has happened a couple of times, mostly when dust storms occur. You can literally feel the granules in your mouth.
•The place I live in is cool. Literally. There’s been days where it’s 40°C outside but we didn’t have to turn neither the air conditioner nor the fan on simply because it was not necessary. If you do that in Malaysia you’d probably be drenched in sweat! That’s not the case here because (I believe) this building was built with special bricks- hollow bricks. It’s basically a brick with two large rectangular holes in the middle. To whoever invented this technology, you ROCK!!!
I’m not here to talk about bricks but I want to talk about this condition I feel whenever I leave the house:
As I said before, the building is always cooler than the temperature outside so after exiting the main door, I’m bombarded with hot air. Picture yourself standing in an open area and there are lots of arrows pointing towards you. These arrows represent the air. Now play the image. Feel it? Then you feel a bubble of heat forming around you. It sticks to you, follows you, and never leaves you.
That’s what I feel the moment I step out of those doors. It will only go away once you’re in the comfort of the air conditioner.
That’s all. I also have exciting news: I’ll be spending some of the summer here so expect part two!