Saturday, October 2, 2010

Autumn in Abu Dhabi

I hesitate to admit this, but as part of my morning routine I typically spend a few minutes reading the latest posts on the Facebook Newsfeed. Coffee in hand, I find it fascinating to read what my friends back in the States were talking about while I was sleeping. I guess it helps me feel connected to my cultural roots. When you do this over a period of time you begin to notice themes, and over the past two weeks that theme has been the arrival of fall -- chilly weather, the Topsfield Fair, Halloween costumes, college football and tailgate parties, pumpkin spice lattes -- and I’m certain it won’t be long before the first mention of apple-picking. Just reading these topics conjures a particular kind of nostalgia for me, probably because of our experiences living in Princeton as well as Cambridge, both towns that I adore, both of which boast spectacular, sensory-overloading fall seasons.

The weather is also turning cooler here in Abu Dhabi, though this may be where my former expectations for fall now end. In the afternoons we’re down from the daily 117 to a respectable 102 or so, and last weekend we even ate a late dinner outside, sweating a bit but mostly comfortable. So for us fall no longer produces images of falling leaves or pumpkin patches, but rather it signals that we can emerge from our air-conditioned igloos and venture into the sun midday without vaporizing. Today, it being the first weekend of October, we thought we’d test the waters, so to speak, and see if we could survive a day at the beach.

It’s funny to be forced to wait out the summer for such an opportunity, given we live in the land of perpetual clear skies, and on an island no less, that is lined with white sandy beaches and surrounded by shimmering crystal-clear water. But we had waited long enough, and this morning we stepped onto our balcony to feel the air – a balmy 84 degrees at 7:30 – and decided if we left by 9 and lathered plenty of sunscreen we might be able to stay on the beach for an hour or two.

Arriving at our beach of choice we were greeted by this sign:

Not sure if it’s meant to be an invitation or a warning, but prophetic it was because bake we did. We had come prepared to sunbathe atop our giant beach blanket, but by the time we walked the quarter of a mile from the car to the beach, and then the 200 yards across the hot coals cleverly disguised as sand, we opted to spring for the lounge chairs for hire complete with oversized umbrella. But even sitting in the shade it didn’t take long for us to seek further refuge in the water, which looked and felt like a massive heated swimming pool. Not refreshing per se, but did the trick to take the edge off the intensifying sun.  

It was brief, but we made the most of our first beach day of the season, alternating between reading our respective novels and observing the odd collection of fellow beach-goers around us, listening to the distant buzz of jet skis and occasional peals of laughter, and reveling in the specific kind of calm that, for me, can only be found beside a body of water. As we returned to our car-slash-oven for the ride home Sam said to me “well I’m glad we did it but I’m glad it’s over.” True, it wasn’t the most pleasant of beach days, but the fact that we were able to go at all means that fall in Abu Dhabi has officially begun. 


  1. Had to laugh. Having been there, I could picture the whole scene. You were probably too young to remember our family's beautiful Fall activities in New Jersey, with amazing folliage. We made annual treks to Princeton to "oooo" and "ahhh" over the colors. Must have been where you were first bitten by the "Princeton bug."

  2. That beach looks awesome! I'll trade you our 53 degree high and slightly changing leaves to sit on that beach! I normally don't like going because I'm not a fan of sand, but that looks inviting.