Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hot Flashes

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 . . .


  1. Hi, Susie--I love this site--and I live in Washington state on the
    water with a gorgeous view of Mt. Rainier (even better than your picture!) My husband leaves for Jeddah in a few weeks and I will follow when he gets my visa. He will be working for a new University that is opening north of Jeddah--. After
    we had lived in Abu Dhabi for three
    years I told my husband that I never
    wanted to be hot again! I love rain!

  2. Waw! More lovely food, and more warmth! I think no airconditioning will be able to chill the warmth of your family! :)

    I must say I would have gone demented by now if I had to wear abaya and especially hijab all the time!!!!!!!!!!

  3. It sounds so much like they really enjoy your company. My in laws would never turn on the A/C for me.

    The food looks delicious, I have a friend who makes beautiful biryani.

  4. I am not big on heat myself. I actually prefer temperate climates. Living nearly two decades in the deserts of New Mexico I have come to appreciate living in Pennsylvania. However, I to have a place that is like your Washington, England. What I would give to live back there. Ah well, one can dream.

  5. Hey! I love this blog! I just discovered it like a couple of days ago and i think I've read almost every blog! and i love all pictures you have posted as well!!

    I thought this blog was soooo cute!
    it's something we would joke about in my family too heheh. Mashallah Im really happy when I read about family stories that have a great bond!!! =)
    Btw, you are REALLY lucky u don't live in riyadh!

  6. I remember last spring when I was visiting Hosa in Jeddah, how I was soooo hot, they always kept the AC turned up just for me (at home and every home we visited in). I felt so guilty, because without a doubt there would soon come out the sweaters, extra sheets, etc.! But I never felt quite guilty enough to have them turn the AC back down!
    You would be loving WA right now. It is pouring rain out, after having 3 feet of snow. And this is just outside Seattle! I wish I could bottle some of it and send it to you! Hang in there, you are having the time of your life! Masha'Allah

  7. Oh this is such a heartwarming post. I love it! You are so lucky mashallah. My in-laws would actually poison me :D

    They all think I did some sort of black magic on my hubby otherwise no one in their right mind would love a rebel like me!

  8. aww sis and its so freezing cold here in england
    i would do anything to go to a hott place
    ow man am jelous lol :)

  9. That was funny Susie. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face today. Tara Umm Omar

  10. Oh, I hate the heat - especially the "tag team" of heat AND humidity. And I don't know how y'all keep from passing out from under the veil, let alone the abeya.

    Your family sounds like they like to have fun. All the great food is a bonus.

  11. Hi Susie,I've heard ginseng helps regulate temp,so does tofu,I wouldn't try them together LOL

    What a fun family,you're lucky.

    I'd take sun and sand over cold any day,my toes aren't gonna thaw out 'till spring.

  12. I can SSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO totally relate to the hot thing. UGH!!! At least when you are cold you can put on more clothes. It's not always very enjoyable or feasible to take off your clothes... and then you get to a point where there are NO MORE CLOTHES to take off! It's rather miserable. I'm hoping instead of hot flashes as I go through menopause, I'll have cold flashes!!! That would be such a nice change!! :-)

  13. I think it takes a few years before the slightest change in cold can make you freeze. Like I'm freezing right now.. my fingers are so chilly I feel like I just had them in the freezer. The first couple of years.. blaah it wasn't cold Jacket?? What are you nuts. But I still cringe at the sight of the thick winter coats and the heavy sweaters like it is snowing outside.. it isn't that cold.

    I also have a problem w/ inlaws and them being cool in the summer and I'm freezing. They come to my house and stay bundled up under covers like it is the middle of winter. "haram it is cold" they tell me.. I told them to eat and gain some weight and chase five kids around before they gripe at me about being cold in the mid of summer :)

  14. I am trying to learn about Muslim culture. My son, a practicing Muslim, lives in Turkey. I enjoy your photos and stories about life in Arabia. The blog about cooking lamb was wonderful! Keep it up.

  15. hey ms.susie!!!
    ugh! i know how much you hate the heat!!! i feel the same way >.< It sounds like your getting use to things though! ^_^ i miss you!!!!

  16. What a wonderful anecdote to share about your in-laws! :)

    I'm just the opposite of you! Born and raised in WA (Tacoma-ish) I'm so pleased to be living in Dubai's hot climate (2+ years now). All the years of sunless-drizzly winters have taken their toll and my body craves the warmth. Although I WOULD definitely move back at some point to be near family and the gorgeous natural setting.

  17. Susie,

    You are SO funny! I am drawn to your blog, and I enjoy reading it very much! It is great that your husband's family made you feel welcome! I have yet to such reception from my inlaws, although it has been over 4 years since we got married. I was convinced that it is due to ethnic and cultural differences that we have. But since reading your blog I believe I am just not that lucky. Anyhoo, enjoy your visit, and I will continue following it!

  18. Susie, I only recently discovered how fascinating Washington State is. I'm amazed that I lived 30 years of my life in my home country and never saw that part of it or knew people from there.

  19. Hi Anonymous - Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment! I feel the same way – I love rain too! It just hardly rains here at all!!! :( There are such spectacular views in Washington and I love the weather there! I have family in Gig Harbor and in University Place. Be sure to look me up when you get here!!!

    Hi Aafke - Sometimes having to wear the garb here makes me feel demented – especially during the hotter months!!!

    Hi Suzanne – Thanks for your comments!

    Hi Heather – I think I would like living in England too. I have very fond memories of my time there!

  20. Hi Heba – Gee, thanks! You made my day! I am actually glad I’m not in Riyadh either – I think it would be even more difficult for me.

    Hi Diane - I guess they are acclimated to the heat here – I am always perplexed when we walk outside and my hubby says how cold it is! I usually reply back that he wouldn’t be saying that if he had to be dressed in black from head to toe!

    Hi Achelois – I keep hearing stories from other women who aren’t treated so kindly by their in-laws. I think I am one of the lucky ones. And YOU are a lovable rebel!!!

    Hi HijabisOnRantingTour – Wish we could trade places!

  21. Hi Tara UmmOmar – Gee, I’m glad I could make you smile!

    Hi RhondaL – I did almost pass out in the heat once during Ramadan. I hope that never happens again. It’s best to stay inside in the AC when it’s hot out and you’re fasting AND you have to dress up like a nun!!!

    Hi Always – Thanks for the tip. Not a big tofu fan but my hubby swears by ginseng.

    Hi Beth – I would much rather have cold flashes too!!!

  22. Hi Nzingha – When I walk into my MIL’s place, it is always so warm –she doesn’t keep the AC on even in the summer! But when I arrive, she is quick to get the AC on. Otherwise I wouldn’t stay very long!

    Hi UmUmar – Thanks so much for taking the time to post your comments. You made me feel good!

    Hi Kamisha – Glad you finally found me! I miss you too! Please tell the folks hello and I hope to see y’all next summer!

  23. Hi Jeane – Part of my family lives in the Tacoma area now too (Gig Harbor and University Place). I’m glad you are enjoying the warmth of Dubai, if that’s what you want. I’m just so tired of living in hot places for my whole life. I just want to be cool now!

    Hi Sonia – I really do feel fortunate to have been received here by my hubby’s family with such warmth and kindness. I think that the fact that my hubby was gone for over 30 years and they so desperately wanted him back, I could have been the Wicked Witch of the West and they would have loved me anyway! I’m sorry you haven’t had the same luck as I have.

    Hi UmmAdam – Washington State is the US’s best kept secret. It has a reputation for lots of rain and some people think it’s gloomy, but I love it there!

  24. I hear and understand about that heating issue! I can be sitting in a heretofore comfortable room and suddenly break out in a full blown sweat and that's without all your accoutrements! Glad you all had a good laugh about the temperature differences.

  25. Hey Schmoozie,
    I totally sympathize with you. I drove for 8 years in South Florida without air in my car. I HATE the heat. Right now it is winter which is the only time I actually love it here. Beautiful blue skies and cool breezes.
    It does almost seem as if you are destined to live in the heat. Can we find a place hotter than Saudi Arabia? Maybe you can move there next!
    Don't give up hope.
    I know how you feel about a place you know you belong. I have my own Washington State picked out. New York City. Love it and want to live there.

  26. You’re complaining about being hot and I’m looking outside right now at a ton of snow falling...

  27. Hi Lee, Schmlinda and Gary - Thanks for your comments!

  28. Hi Susi,

    I have been to KSA myself a few years back for hajj pilgrimage and more or less understood how things are handled differently there ...

    I am so smitten with your adventure stories in KSA and look forward to the next new posts!

    Bali, Indonesia

  29. oh how i wish to have such a fun loving husband and family like yours. i have been married to a saudi now for seven years and with a very heavy heart i can honestly say it was a huge mistake. but i force myself to stay for my children. right or wrong that's where i am at this point. but i do love to read stories like this where actual happiness occurs between a saudi husband and american wife.

  30. Umm Tiflain--I am so sorry you are suffering in this way. As well as Susie's wonderful story you may wish to read those at Tara Umm Omar's blog,
    many of which are joyous, and some of which are sad. You may find company there as well as here in the challenges of a bicultural marriage. In any case, I hope you find your own joy.