Due to work assignments I have travelled to several parts of the world including the so-called hot zones. So I am no stranger to serious hot weather. To be honest, I am used to many kinds of weather including the extreme variety. This includes the cold too. I have lived in Canada for several years. I however didn't visit the Arctic zone except by plane when it landed in Alaska for refueling but my Toronto days were enough for me. But there it is. Glad I saw so many parts of the world yet none were by choice. I would always prefer much more to stay at home.
Heat and cook: Delhi +
Between 2002 and 2007, I did a fair amount of work in central Asia, largely Turkmenistan and its neighboring states. Central Asia is a world of its own with its particular weather patterns. And Turkmenistan is considered a very odd place in general, according to some one of the oddest in the world. It has a centralized government - read dictatorial - and its leader at that time -Sapurmurat Niazov - had everything named after himself or his family members. No dissent, no politics, no media, no nothing.
People were very comfortable and they lacked nothing but no serious prosperity anywhere. That is even wealth making was controlled by the government. There were no poor people and no rich people. I think the post Soviet Union state was still being run by its governing principles. Petrol was cheaper than coke and so its source of wealth was obvious. I had been there in spring-nice-, winter, very nice - and once in summer and it's about that episode.
I had to fly through Delhi to get my visa and it was 104 + in the Indian capital. As I walked through the streets I felt that my balding head was being cooked. I felt hot all over but it's the head that felt like was shaking hands with hot coal. For the first time I felt the need of a cap or something to cover my head. In those days, - "feels like" - was not known so much but it must have been 110 or something. I went to a nearby shop and bought a cap and that saved my bheja from being fried.
The other part was the lack of humidity. It takes much of the discomfort away and one doesn't sweat and suffer like in Dhaka but are just heated. Humidity is like cooking food on a stove while dry heat is like putting cold food in the microwave to warm before eating.
Turkmen desert heat
Turkmenistan is a desert so obviously heat is expected but in the air-conditioned world the heat is whirred down. I did want to know what it felt like to be in the desert which I had done long back so I hired a car and ventured out with a friend to get in touch with high heat.
We put in water, checked the fuel level and clothes etc and drove out. There are roads going out deep into the desert and it's not something you really feel scared by. I have never been impressed by nature so all that sand bores me after a while. But we found a small oasis of sorts in the middle of the desert. It was a rest room of sorts really built in the Soviet era with some trees in the background. The place looked decrepit and I thought maybe even haunted. But what would you get? Thirsty ghosts?
We sat on the benches in the shade and drank warm soft drinks of ordinary quality. The man who ran the spot was a government employee and informed me that no one came visiting and was curious about where I came from. Can't explain Bangladesh, can I?
He said if we moved far enough, we could see the" mouth of hell". It's a half dead volcano opening which tourists come to see when the weather is better. I had no interest as I would know when the time was right. I asked him to check the thermometer. 121 F. Not bad, my hottest. Not sure what the "feels like" was. We didn't feel that hot. The driver warned of a sand storm brewing -car radio- and we rushed back while eating sandwiches washed down with proper cold drinks.
In Africa and hair
We grew up thinking Africa is hot and people have black skin because the sun is so close etc. It's true that many parts of Africa are very hot- Libya, Mali, Senegal, etc, but there are many temperate zones too like Nigeria and others. They are also large countries and say Ethiopia and Nigeria are both close to hills and desert with cool winters and high summer.
I think it's the Sahel Africa, or sub-Saharan Africa that is very hot. In 1994-5 I was working in African countries. Uganda is very temperate by comparison particularly around Lake Victoria but barring a few spots not a hot country.
Nigeria and Ethiopia are very mixed and both have hot desert zones. In Nigeria, the part in the North is hot and sandy too. The wind blows - "harmatan"- and the sands clog their Afro hair. I had asked this young girl who was my colleague about the heat. She screwed up her face and said, "the heat I don't mind much but just look at what it has done to my hair."
To each their own heat and hair.
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