Monday, January 21, 2008

The Big Chill

muddy car Winter had eluded us, until now. It typically begins to rain and the weather tends to cool off by early December. Yet by the end of the year it was still mild and dry. However, cold temperatures are now here with full force. The thermostat is hovering around 50 F /10 C during the days and dips to 43/7 at night, which is considerably cold for Doha. To top it off, the past few days it had also began to rain, bringing with it as expected much chaos and confusion. We have witnessed a profusion of accidents, several more than the average one accident a week I usually see. Since there are no rain gutters, huge muddy puddles abound everywhere, some as big as mini lakes in which our cars slosh about, giving them a mud bath. So now our cars are splattered and crusted with mud. Needless to say, no point in getting them washed while it is raining, but the lines at the car wash will be maddeningly long and frustrating during a respite from the rain. Patience here is truly a virtue.

Mother of all heatersThere has been a lull in the rain for the past few days, but the temperatures are still quite low. There is no central heating system here (no central air conditioning in most homes for that matter), so we are relying on sweaters, socks and most importantly, space heaters to keep us warm. Our home is very open with high ceilings; therefore keeping it warm is quite an ordeal. In the main living room where we generally spend most of our time, we have 2 large heaters on at all times. Taking last year’s example of all heaters being sold out in the entire city at the onset of winter, this year we had stockpiled them when we first saw them, way back in October. Storing up on items is not an uncommon phenomenon in this country. Many items, both perishable and non perishable, run out fairly quickly so people tend to hoard things when they see them. I will write more about these shortages in later postings as well, but the latest item that I find to be missing from all grocery stores which I have visited is Philadelphia brand cream cheese. I had wanted to make cheesecake a few days ago, but my plans must be put on the back burner, so to speak, until I can locate it.

We have also caved in and bought a clothes dryer. We never thought we would need one since during the warm/hot months (which of course are most of the year) clothes tend to dry on drying racks very quickly, sometimes in a matter of a few hours. But these days they stay damp for several days, and often start to give off a horrible musty odor. The kids are happy though, now they don’t have to wear ‘crunchy’ clothes. Imagine the joy an appliance can bring!

But alas, we will only enjoy this cool weather for a short time. It will start to turn warmer in a few weeks, and by the end of March or early April it will become hot. By end of April it will become unbearably hot, so much so, that we only go out when it is absolutely necessary. We will try to take advantage of this pleasant weather as much as we can, then get ready for another 6-7 months of self imposed hibernation.

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