I t's the middle of January and I'm still hot. Not as hot as spring, summer, or fall, that's for sure, but I just don't find the weather in the winter as cool here in Jeddah as everyone else seems to. Maybe it's just that the older I get the less tolerant I am of the heat. Ok, it could be because I have more built-in padded insulation than most other people around here. Or perhaps it's due to my own personal internal thermostat just always seems to be set on "hot." And no doubt, having to wear the abaya plus covering my head and neck certainly contribute to my overheating problem. Whatever the reason, I am feeling doomed to live in hot climates all my life – Arizona, Texas, Florida, and now Saudi Arabia. I am just dying to live in a cooler climate, and I have just the place picked out already – Washington State. Half of my family has migrated there over the years, and every time I go there I just feel like I belong and I don’t want to leave. Did you ever feel that way about a place?
The other day we were at the home of my sister-in-law (SIL) “B” for dinner. Her home is enormous. We ate all together in the cavernous upstairs family room, which is probably four times as big as the family room at our place, and I'm not exaggerating. Very typically, the maids set up the dining area on the thick plush carpeted floor by spreading out a large plastic tablecloth. There were sixteen of us who sat around on the floor eating the meal of biryani with lamb (a spicy Pakistani rice dish), curry chicken, scalloped potatoes, and more. After the meal, several of us went to one side of the room to play cards, and the rest were in the seating area having tea, dessert, and conversation. Now this room is so big that it has four separate AC wall units. Each room in our home only has one per room. Many homes in Jeddah do not have central air but are instead equipped with individual AC units in each room. Many homes are so oversized that this probably cuts down on the cooling bill since you’re generally not cooling down the entire house.
Just one AC unit was on in the whole room, and fortunately it was in the card-playing side. None-the-less, I was still warm. Because my brother-in-law was there, I had to have my hair and neck covered. I mentioned to my niece that I thought it was hot and she immediately got up and turned on the other AC unit that was on our side of the room. After a bit, I started to feel more comfortable, but I also noticed that one of my other nieces went and got a sweater for my mother-in-law. And then another niece took the baby into another room and when they came out he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. A short while later, my two other nieces grabbed a couple of sheets and wrapped them around themselves. Three of them huddled together on the couch in an effort to keep warm. They were all sitting there freezing so I would feel comfortable!
When we finished playing cards, we joined the rest of the group in the seating area. I turned to my hubby and said quietly, “Everybody else is cold with the AC on just so I won’t feel hot!” My husband turned and loudly addressed everyone in the room, saying something in Arabic. Several of them responded in Arabic and others giggled. I grinned sheepishly.
Hubby told me, “They are all suffering because of you. They are talking about what method they should use to eliminate you.” Everyone was laughing out loud at this point.
“Well, just make sure it’s not with a gun or knife – I really don’t like the sight of blood,” I joked.
My SIL “B,” who was sitting near me, pointed to my drink and quipped, “Susie, drink up!”
“They went with poison,” Hubby chuckled, half whispering.
“That must be why I’m feeling a headache coming on!” I whimpered, dramatically sweeping the back of my hand to my forehead.
“Yes, that’s the first symptom. You should be getting gas and the runs any minute!” teased SIL ”B.”
“Great! I’ve had THAT since I moved here!” I took another sip, grabbed my throat, rolled my eyes back and coughed my way down to the floor in a dead heap, amidst a roomful of laughter.
And yet another example of how much they make me feel like a welcome addition to this warm and wonderful fun-loving family . . .