Kuwait takes its seasons seriously. For every year I’ve been here, it seems like the first of May rolls around and someone has flipped a climate switch from “pleasant” to “unbearable even in the shade.” You’ll find plenty to complain about during summers in the Gulf. Car seatbelts burn, dust storms roll in, a few minutes in the sun provokes migraines and eggs start tasting funny, as if the hens were staging their own protest. But I still find myself looking forward to it, as a welcome slowdown from an active winter spent outdoors.
I’ve spent every winter weekend outside during the day, sometimes for as long as eight hours, with my husband who lives for the outdoors. I love my vitamin D, fresh air and exercise as much as anyone else. Yes, there is something to be said for a creamy, sunburn-less complexion and not having to be bone-weary from toting a toddler around town only to come home to work I’ve neglected. I’ll be glad to use the weather as an excuse to stay home and have the time to do chores and tasks leisurely while someone else plays with my son on the weekend. And when the toddler naps, maybe I’ll nap too, or get caught up on watching movies on the couch these summer afternoons. And the all-male outdoor pool my husband frequents will reopen, so he can fulfill his requirement of being outdoors—by himself.
Days indoor don’t mean we won’t be enjoying the city nights. Although I didn’t especially miss being advertised at this winter, I do relish the cold blast of the air conditioning at the mall when I enter from a parking garage sizzling with heat radiating from car engines. Even more so, I am eager to ditch my outdoor style of carefree hair, minimal makeup, and casual clothes for indoor styles of bolder makeup, straighter hair, and delicate fabrics. Also, since most people hibernate indoors during the day, even the outdoor souks have an electric intimacy at night that I’m looking forward to.
Rising temperatures promote a switch from baking and outdoor grilling to salad prep and sipping cool drinks. When it’s hot, I’m much more able to appreciate the crispness of lettuce dripping with a tart vinaigrette, or the spicy sweetness of chaat, all welcome after a season of stodgy stews, meat and rice dishes, sticky desserts, and too much bread. Substituting iced tea, lemonade, and fresh juices for warm drinks also takes the edge off of the hot season. As a bonus, any processes requiring low heat or sunlight occur faster than usual. If you want to dehydrate your own chilies or herbs, need to quickly dry kitchen towels, or have to cure homemade pickles fast, all you need to do is put it out in the sun for a while.
I’ve never had a Chaunsa I didn’t like. I can’t wait to introduce my son to the King of Fruit, just like I had been so long ago by my parents on trips to Karachi. It’s a complete sensory experience: the bright orange color, the perfume, the sound of the fibers giving against your teeth, the dribble of the juice down your chin, the complex sweetness of the ripe fruit. Executioner, I want mangoes for my last meal–but you’ll have to delay my sentence until late May, when South Asia’s mango season kicks off. Everyone I know has his own way of eating a mango. I divide the fruit into two hemispheres that I cube and detach from the peel with a spoon. My husband slices around the stone and eats off the slivers of skin. Mango lassi was my sister’s favorite, my father opted to suck on the fleshy stone, and my mother preferred hers dressed in a spicy fruit salad. I’m eager to see what way my one-year-old makes of his first experience. As if he didn’t already have enough strawberry and avocado smears on his shirt.
If in the end you can’t take the heat, you can always go abroad for a while. Summers are the ideal time to leave Kuwait, since most tourist spots outside of this latitude enjoy sublime weather. However, if you decide to stay for the summer, the roads, absent school traffic and a great chunk of the population, are blissfully clearer. There is grace in that.