These days in Oman, it’s hard to have a conversation without some mention of the heat. Sometimes it’s the answer to a question: “How are you?” “Hot.” Sometimes it’s used as a reprimand: “Don’t touch me! I’m hot and sweaty!” And sometimes, it’s a random exclamation: “Oh my goodness, it’s so hot!” You think you’re getting used to the heat until it still sneaks up on you and smacks you on the back of the neck. My general mantra is “mind over matter”. I try to stay calm and think cool thoughts when the temperature rises, but facing the reality of peak summer heat requires the kind of mental acrobatics that leave you baffled. So, we’re going to turn our sun-scorched frowns upside down and look at the ultra-sunny side of life. Here are a few benefits to the summer heat that will hopefully shift your perspective and help you bear life above 100oF (38oC) a little easier.
1. You don’t need to use a drying machine.
Line drying your laundry is the best way to maintain the quality of your clothes and naturally bleach hard-to-clean stains. Rain is so scarce in the Gulf that you hardly have to worry about your laundry catching a downpour. Even if you save all of your laundry for the weekend, you can do back-to-back loads. Most of my laundry is dry in about two hours, so you can wash and dry laundry as long as the sun is up. Such an eco-friendly alternative will help compensate for the tremendous amount of energy consumed by running your air conditioners.
2. Your health could improve.
The simple act of standing outside is enough to break a sweat, which burns calories. Walking is optional but running in this heat could be risky. With all the buckets of sweat you generate, there must be some detoxification and cleansing going on internally. Also, the almost consistently clear skies will give you great doses of Vitamin D which is essential for calcium absorption and boosting your immune system.
An additional benefit is your obstinate desire to avoid cooking at all costs. While some may try to subsist on frozen desserts, many will admit strong cravings for salads—green salads, fruit salads, leftover salads. Anything that doesn’t require heating suddenly becomes the most appetizing dish for your palate.
3. Your tap water is never cold.
No fears of a cold shower in these parts. The water is tepid after sunrise, lukewarm at night, and scorching in the mid-day. You won’t need to use a water-heater (or a kettle) to warm your water for the entire summer--yet another way to conserve energy and save your money.
4. You can experiment with outdoor cooking.
I don’t eat eggs but if I did, I wouldn’t waste gas frying them considering how hot the ground is. When I lived in Algeria, I heard about a type of bread that’s baked under the heat of the desert sand. I couldn’t believe it then but my Omani friends tell me about how meat is roasted underground for special occasions. It’s all quite plausible to me now. Roasting, dehydrating, and baking outdoors are all options for conserving energy and testing out your solar-powered cooking skills.
5. You gain a profound appreciation for all things cold.
An icy drink, a cool breeze, and a cold room all attain a new level of significance in your life. Your gratitude for such relief reaches new depths and it’s good to pause and think about those who have no escape from the heat, no refuge from the cold, or live their lives under the elements all year round. While this post was intended to be light-hearted, I hope we can all take a moment to pause and reflect upon how fortunate we are in our given circumstances, even if they’re inconvenient. A temporary power outage or water shortage always brings me back to a reality that people face on a daily basis. Thankfully, the heat is bearable for most of us and by the end of the year, we’ll be enjoying sunny days on the beach while others are shivering from the cold.
Serious Tips for Coping with the Heat
· Hydrate yourself liberally, generously, and often.
· Plan your outings early or late. Preferred times would be before 10 AM and after 4PM.
· Stay indoors during peak heat.
· Use hats, sunscreen, and long loose clothing to protect your skin from sunburn.
· Use windshield visors in your vehicle and driving gloves for handling your steering wheel and shifting gears.
Thankfully, many jobs in the Gulf offer generous summer vacations, so use your month or two (or three!) of paid leave wisely and plan accordingly.
Any other tips for staying cool in the Gulf?