I’m gonna need a diplomat or an attache because I’m in the midst of a very strange cold war. Perhaps it’s more of a tepid war. Actually, the temperature of this conflict depends upon whose side you are on. Hence the need for an intermediary.
In one corner we have NSB — a hotblooded American woman whose blood has thinned after 20 years in Vermont. I need air-con if the temp rises above 50.
In the other corner we have everyone else in UAE — people who thrive in the heat and, therefore, are not interested in wintertime air-conditioning. Emirati, and many other relocated nationals, actually need heat if the temps drop below 80.
The weather here has been hovering around 75-degrees Fahrenheit lately. It actually is gorgeous, especially outside where the wind makes it feel like 74.5F. But inside can be stifling because the windows are closed up and the A/C is OFF. So, ironically, the winter in Abu Dhabi is making me hot around the collar. I was cooler in late summer when it was 130-degrees outside and 68-degrees inside.
Okay, so you might recall that two days ago, my hot/cold battle played out in three locations: the backseat of two separate cabs (both drivers reluctant to turn on the a/c) and my office cubicle (wherein engineers were happy to accommodate my need for a two-degree drop).
Yesterday’s match-up took place at the gym at the Al Jazira Sports Center. Here’s the play-by-play:
NSB turned ON the A/C as she began her 30-minute treadmill run. OMG, it was so lovely to have the cool blast! NSB felt like a VIP even though she could not figure out how to turn on the TV. Perched right in front of the A/C, however, NSB felt that the sound of cold air being emitted was as good as the air itself.
UAE guy enters the gym and heads right for the A/C. He hits OFF before heading toward a treadmill across the room from the cooling unit.
NSB from USA yells “NO” to a very surprised UAE guy.
Clearly shocked, UAE guy does an about face to put the A/C back ON again. Afterward, he figures out how to turn ON the TV, too, and opts for local programming.
Game tied: NSB gets Air; UAE guy gets Arabic.
After working out for 3 minutes, UAE guy asks NSB if he can turn the A/C down. He looks like he’s been stuck in the snow for hours without a coat.
NSB says OK, feeling like she needs to concede. But she privately wonders why UAE guy’s GYM workout isn’t making him HOT? Maybe he should be working harder so that he wants the AC too. He’s wrapped a towel around himself because he’s that bothered! Meanwhile, NSB wants to strip down to a swimsuit.
Still tied. Maybe UAE guy should take his towel, and NSB should get her SPEEDO for a swim in the pool — a pool that is, in fact, lukewarm.
NSB continues to run with little-to-no air circulating in the hot gym area. It’s like a sauna with one mediocre, random breeze blowing from the very dialed down AC unit. NSB tries to focus on the Arabic TV show instead of the temperature. As her workout concludes, NSB’s face is the color of a beet.
On the way out, NSB takes a good long look at UAE guy who appears to be shivering while doing squats. Seeing NSB leave, UAE guy runs as fast as a cheetah to the A/C unit and turns it OFF. No doubt having broken a sweat to get there.
It’s a draw. NSB gets to leave the battlefield and go back to a cold office. UAE guy gets to workout in his own private Sahara after a sprint to the AC unit.
The Tie Breaker
On my cab ride this morning (a full day after the gym war), I asked the driver to turn on the air-conditioning. I’d just run 4 miles outside. He laughed, and slapped his leg, like I was a stand-up (albeit sitting down) comic, and kept driving.
“Where are you from?” I asked.