Friday, June 11, 2010

The top 10 things I hate about summers in the Middle East

1.Hot summers with a blazing sun every day and only a handful of places with air conditioning is a one-way ticket to Stinkville. Yes, summer makes pretty much everyone stink. Men sweat in places they didn't even know they had, turning clothes into knock-off ShamWows and foreheads into leaky faucets. Those who do not kill you outright with their body odor will take you out with their overpowering perfumes and fragrances. Let's hope you are not allergic.

2. School is out, and seemingly millions of little kids running wildly in the streets is like the Middle Eastern version of Pamplona's running of the bulls. Only the bulls are really cars. Cars not going anywhere fast on the narrow Arab streets. Not a good idea to try and talk these rowdy little creatures out of being kids. It's a problem that many have to live with, but since Arabs and Orthodox Jews have the most kids, they suffer equally in their summer. Glad that ice cream trucks in the Middle East do not play that noisy song they play in the States.

3. Wedding seasons. Yes, I know at least 10 of your cousins are getting married; meaning you will be kissing tons of people and eating a lot of food at those parties. You can expect to spend a fortune on clothing and shoes to make yourself look presentable at those happy occasions, but you still go home alone. Sweating.

4. It's all-toes-all-the-time season, and you can expect to thousands of them poking out of sandals, flip flops, open toe shoes and all those funky crocs. Straight toes, crooked toes, toes with nails so thick it takes two husky men with hacksaws to trim them. And it's hard to maintain eye contact with someone when they have a bunion the size of a falafel poking out of their sandal. No, pigeon toes can't fly away, but you'll wish they could. Yes, its summer so you can expect to see a lot more toes. Makes you wish they made a burqa for those ugly toes because some things really need to be covered.

5. Arab men showing their scary chest hair. The summer is a showcase for loose shirts, and many Arab men don't miss an opportunity to let their chest hair fly free. Thanks to the Arab male mentality (and a few pop stars) open top shirts are making a comeback. Brace for impact.

6. Wearing sunglasses indoors. You have seen the creeps who wear their sunglasses indoors. Yes, the kind that when not selling gray market iPods are working for some nameless spook agency. This is a big phenomenon in Egypt and few other Arab countries, where you are not a high roller until you sport some shades 24/7. I know I can never hang onto a pair of sunglasses more than one week, as I tend to misplace them or leave them in a car. Maybe that's why these guys wear them 24/7.

7. Karaoke Arabic music everywhere! Summer is the time when singers have the most concerts and release the most albums. With the rush to get new music out, many crappy songs become hits and you start hearing them on every corner. It's even worse if you have to take a taxi, where you are at the mercy of the driver whose musical taste have not changed since your father had hair on his head.

8. Too many concerts, movies, conventions, parties. The majority of great movies come out in the summer, making it hard to enjoy them all, as there is always a new flick. The same goes for concerts. With great movies and concerts comes a great deal of popcorn and cold beverage. BBQs are happening all the time with the very same people and the very same food, and you start to feel like you're in an Arab version of "Groundhog Day." And do not forget that as soon as you leave the BBQ you need to go and camp out to get early bird tickets to the latest convention in your town.

9. Weight Loss in Arabia. Most Arabs do not need to worry about their beach bodies, so why the bombardment of weight loss products? Fad diets and that mysterious weight loss tea are HUGE on the Arabic airwaves. Why obsess with losing weight? It's not like bikinis sales are taking off in the Middle East. Go ahead and try that special summer drink mix your buddy just gave you. But men, please hide those awful Speedos. Save them for your trip to France.

10. Arab emigrants use the summer to visit their home countries and hang out with their cousins. But instead of catching up, you find out that they already know everything that's going on thanks to Facebook and YouTube. Reunions are not as much fun as they used to be. C'mon, your life looks lot more exciting on Facebook.




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