x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

The heat is on ... and our teen columnist is coping with it

Our teen columnist gets to grips with the sweltering weather .... but only for short spells.

It's getting hotter and hotter, and we're seeking shelter deeper and deeper within the cool comforts of our air-conditioned homes. Which, to me, seems like the only sensible thing to do. After all, what are all the comforts of modern life for if we teens don't use them? Only thing is, living in a place like Dubai, where everything, from air conditioning to spa therapies, is readily available, we've grown too used to them. I found myself protesting when ordered one sultry evening to "go out and get some fresh air".

I admit I was bored out of my skull of the routine of checking Facebook, liking the odd status, writing "pretty" on the occasional photo, logging off, logging in again and liking another status. Which I hadn't found the least likeable the first time but was now reduced to liking it for lack of anything else to do. I would have gladly gone out for the much-needed "fresh air" had I considered the weather conditions suitable. Because it was a warm evening, though, I ignored the commands until I was unceremoniously deposited outside. That was when I began to wonder if I had really become the stereotypical spoilt city kid who thought blackberries were smartphones and nothing else. The situation's certainly not the same in other parts of the world.

When we go to my hometown of Delhi in the summers, the thermometer regularly hits 45. Despite the burning sun, not only children but teenagers, too - that PSP-addicted social group - emerge from their cool houses at about five o'clock, if only to indulge in a game of street cricket, played with tennis balls so they don't injure any passers-by too gravely, or to talk to others in the neighbourhood. Face to face, imagine that.

At my old school in England, chilly toes were no excuse for missing the hockey sessions that never seemed to end. It didn't matter if it was pouring with rain in the middle of November and all we were wearing were polo shirts with skorts. If you missed a game you got an extra two hours of hockey skills training the next time you did play. When it was most likely to be even chillier and rainier than the first time. No one missed a game, however, because, believe it or not, we actually enjoyed playing hockey, shivering and covered with mud, lashed by pelting raindrops, trying to keep an eye on the ball while running and listening to what the teacher was hollering at the same time ("Move, you muppets! You aren't here for a tea party!")

Even in this concrete jungle, you can't sometimes help but experience nature in the raw. By "nature in the raw'", I refer to when, finally relenting, I went for a stroll with Adeela, a friend who lives across the street, and encountered a wasp. I like to fancy myself as quite the intrepid explorer, undeterred by the challenges presented by the natural world. I didn't like the look of that wasp, though - too large and orange for my liking. Also it had that expression wasps assume when they're looking forward to taking a nice big chunk out of a juicy human victim. Anyway, it was too hot to stay out for too long. It'd been five minutes since I'd left the house. I beat a hasty retreat indoors.

Adeela laughed and called me silly, and pointed out a bug that had fluttered in just as we were coming in through the door. "Don't hurt it," I cried, just as Adeela casually flattened it with a quick movement of her foot, and flicked it outside. And called me silly again.

I suppose I have become soft, but now my new duties involve watering the garden every evening to get me "acclimatised". My initial reaction to this was "Er, the gardener does it every morning anyway" but apparently the plants need to be watered twice a day, although they've been managing perfectly well with one watering for the past year or so.

Mother Nature, save a couple of violent mosquito attacks (OK, one bite by one mosquito) and the time when a gigantic ant crawled up my foot, has been treating me fairly well. I have found a nest built by a pair of sparrows in a tree in our garden, and have scattered birdfeed in the grass - a lot of them come in for a drink of water (although their fine tastes dictate that they do not actually drink water from the garden tap but enjoy the mineral variety). I have picked the tomatoes growing in the veggie patch and watched an old Gul-mohar tree flower for the first time in years.

I may still not completely be in tune with nature, owing to my persistent dislike of the sun, but have now come a step closer to appreciating what that poet bloke was talking about when he said "Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet."

The writer is a 15-year-old student in Dubai.