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It’s Winter in the Desert

I can say that with a smile these days, reveling in the warmth of my newly purchased woolly socks, the feel of a cozy blanket and the endless cups of steaming ginger tea I indulge in throughout the day…all without turning into a sweaty mess.

Makeup actually stays firmly on, rather than sliding off my face as it does during the usual heat and humidity filled days throughout most of the year. Jackets and scarves, even boots are worn hastily. Large and small bonfires are stirred to life across the desert landscape while groups of huddled boys or men gather around for gossip and Arabic coffee. Numerous cups of hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows and cardamom spiced Karak Chai (milky, sweet tea beverage sampled widely across the Gulf countries) have been prepared for the children and guests in our home. We were the proud owners of an electric fireplace a few years ago but for reasons I cannot recall we got rid of it, only to regret it at this time of the year, every year. It would have come in very handy on *cold* Dubai mornings or evenings.The temperatures have dropped, what to us desert dwellers seem frost bitingly winter conditions…and have hovered between 11-16 degrees C during the day, with a bone shattering wind sending whistling sand across the city streets and highways.

The other day it rained. Real rain, not just a dozen or so drops. Mercifully, they descended from the leaden skies. Dubai rejoiced in the sun-less days that followed. Residents from all seven Emirates relished in announcements from the meteorologists about more such delights to come.

We had a pool size amount of water in our backyard that refused to dissipate, requiring intervention from our compound maintenance crew. One of the drawbacks of drainage systems unused to even moderate rainfall.

Today a dense fog blanketed the city. What joy! Instead of hiding away in the comfort of their homes, enjoying the above-mentioned fireplaces and warm beverages Dubaians can be found everywhere but there. Mildly hysterical with glee, cheeks flushed and noses running, they are out frolicking in the parks, barbecuing and swimming in the Persian Gulf while blissfully ignoring their aching and numb muscles. They stubbornly engage in a variety of outdoor activities disregarding the elements. There are places on our planet that have four seasons and the kind of sensible residents who adhere to certain codes of behavior suitable for each.

Not so for our resolute and adventurous inhabitants.

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Next come the *heated* arguments about whether it is actually cold, freezing cold or just balmy and whether maybe one should run out and buy some form of heating device…just in case.

It always fills me with an irrational pleasure, pride almost, at the sight of smaller numbers on my car thermometer, the fact that I can turn the heater on and self-importantly shiver under my jacket while dropping my daughter to school.

It won’t last long, but while it does I will rejoice in it…maybe even go hunting for that pair of long forgotten gloves I have used once while ice skating. Just in case.

Zvezdana Rashkovich was born in ex-Yugoslavia. At the age of seven she started her lifelong nomadic journey across Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Qatar, Dubai and the United States. A fluent Arabic speaker, she has worked as a medical and legal interpreter for refugees in the United States. Owing to her eclectic experiences she has developed an intense enthusiasm for multiculturalism. Zvezdana currently lives in Dubai with her Sudanese husband and four children. She is the author of Dubai Wives and is working on a memoir, Africa in the way I dance.

Zvezdana blogs at Sleepless in Dubai where she shares her experiences as an expat, mom and writer.

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