It’s the most notable thing about the Middle East, not the Burj Khalifa, not The Pearl in Doha, it’s the heat, the stifling, enveloping, steaming heat that descends in April and doesn’t offer respite until October, sometimes November.
For weeks before the big Five O (degrees Celsius) you can feel it a little hotter each morning, a little more humid in the afternoon and bit stickier at night, it’s creeps up in April, quickens to a gallop in May and before you know it, you’ve gone from a beautiful, sunny, albeit sometimes sandy winter to like the living hell the comes with temperatures above 45 degrees.
The scale can be difficult to comprehend at time, but as the temperature hikes and spikes, there comes changes, each rising degree bringing its own set of complications, so I’ll give an overview of what life is like in Doha from 40 to 52 degrees.
At 40 degrees the AC in the car starts to struggle, you can no longer go for a walk or contemplate being outside without a bottle of water. You need AC on full time in each room full time. You need to start putting red wine in the fridge.
At 42 degrees, you need to start the car fifteen minutes before you get in, otherwise you’ll end up doing the school run in a greenhouse. You need to have your sunglasses, sun cream and flip-flops to go to the clothes line. The ground is now too hot to stand on in bare feet.
At 44 degrees, the swimming pools get chilled, the metal bars at the steps of the pool are too hot to touch and be careful of the seatbelt in the car, it will leave a nasty burn if you make contact before it gets a chance to cool. You should have a shower before 10 in the morning or after ten at night, because during the daytime there are two temperatures, hot and hotter, the hot water is hot and the cold water feed is boiling. An answer to this is to turn off the water heater, use the hot as cool and the cold as hot.
At 46 degrees, the clothes you put out on the line at 10.00 are dry at 10.30, being an Irish mammy of four kids, this is simple the biggest advantage imaginable when living in one of the hottest places on earth. There is a strange warm waft rising from the loo when you take position, as the water in the bottom of the toilet bowl is hot. The water in the outside hose is hot so be careful when watering your burned out bougainvilleas, you may scald your hand.
At 48 degrees, the clothes pegs break and snap easily on the clothes line (not the kinds of Irish mammy that brings in the pegs every night). The outdoor candles melt and spill across the backyard, so be careful of hot wax. The flies has ceased, even the fly can’t risk these temperature for a sip of lemonade. The bin emits a warmth with you lift the lid, no matter how many times a day you empty it, it still stinks. You need to fill the baby’s bath and place under the AC until the water cools enough to bathe the baby.
At 50 degrees, you know the AC maintenance guy by name and his name is Abdullah Al Abdullah Mahr Al Khor Mahi Ali Bin Ali, and he knows yours, Jenny. The school run is silent, the car doesn’t cool down sufficiently to have a conversation. No matter how much AC you have on in the house, the warm pours in under the doorframe, threateningly. Make sure at all times you have a mug of water in the fridge for when you are trying to cool down the baby’s bottle. And on a further note, be careful of the Sudocrem, it becomes runny and will spill easily if you’re not expecting it. The springs of the trampoline have snapped. Every plastic toy left outside has faded and cracked.
At 52 degrees, you’ve drank the wine. Washed every duvet and cushion in the house and have given up hope of ever losing your appetite because of the heat and despite the great drying outside, you can’t wait to go home.