Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Discovering new places that sweat

As I write this, at noon, the temperature is 97F or 36C. I'm discovering parts of my body I never knew had sweat glands. Did you know that knees can sweat? If it's humid enough, your entire body can sweat copiously. Even though I keep thinking my makeup will last until I get to work, by the time I get there it's been blotted off with the wash cloth I now carry in my purse at all times. I've taken to wearing waterproof mascara, so at least my blonde eyelashes remain tinted brown.

When I first saw women carrying opened umbrellas when there was no rain, I chuckled to myself, amused by the quaintness. I'm from Seattle, and unless it's raining buckets, we pride ourselves on never opening an umbrella. That's for tourists or whimps. Now, however, I've taken to carrying an opened umbrella under the blazing sun. It's at least 5 degrees cooler, I think, under the umbrella.

I've also noticed women, and some men, wearing white gloves, but I'm not sure of the exact reason. My guess is that, for the women, they're trying to avoid getting those ugly age spots on the tops of their hands. For the men, maybe it's because of previous skin cancer and they're now protecting against further overexposure to the sun's damage.

The heat is so oppressive. When I'm not working, I stay in my air conditioned room at the guesthouse because the rest of the house is blazing hot. The management apparently has a no AC mandate because, while there are two large AC units in the living room, no one has ever turned them on. Trying to use the kitchen to cook, or the living room to watch a little TV, is futile because of the bloody heat. Only the most heat-resistant tenants, such as the Sri Lankans or Indians or Pakistanis, can handle these temperatues and continue to cook and watch TV. They don't even use the AC units in their rooms, choosing instead to leave their apartment doors open to the hallway and bank of windows that run the length of the hall.

Those of us who are American or British or Australian remain in our rooms, isolated from any possibility of good, friendly conversation.

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