Summer. The sea is soup and the sand burns. People start slowing down in the refrigerated aisles of supermarkets just to catch a waft of cool air. Women walk with their faces turned up to keep the make-up from dripping off. The strength of our car air-conditioning becomes inordinately important to us.
Did you ever read about that horrific experiment they performed on chimpanzees? Or it might have been gorillas. Scientists wanted to see if the bond between mother and child would be strong enough to withstand extreme physical pain and suffering, or whether a sentient creature would sacrifice her baby to save herself. They did it by slowly increasing the heat of the metal floor in the animals' cages, where mother and baby 'lived'. At the first sign of dangerous heat, the mother scooped up her baby to save it from the ever-hotter floor. But her scorched feet became more and more painful, and the floor kept on heating up, and eventually, driven mad by pain, she put her baby on the floor on stood on it for some momentary relief. What on earth these mad bastards hoped to achieve by this experiment is unclear - is it maternal bonds that moved the Mars Rover around? Do chimp tears treat cancer? - but it is a highly unpleasant story that unfortunately comes into my head every time I walk outside in the Omani summer heat.
(I just remembered, I heard this story from my mother. I wonder why should would have told me that?)
So. That's the problem laid out - along with a nasty story about animal cruelty - but what is the solution? Those of us who stay for summer must make a plan. Typically, this would include:
Trips to mountains
Piled-high DVDs of all the series I deliberately haven't watched so I can watch them in summer
A re-doubling of our efforts to destroy all the monsters in Resident Evil
Trying to play Risk with two people
And then there are all the food options. The indoor ones. Lock them in now, MAKE A PLAN, before the ennui hits and you're incapable of doing more than lolling on your sofa and ordering the same thing from Begum's again.
No doubt you're already bored of wandering around food courts, and do it once a week even in winter anyway, so we'll scratch that, unless I come across something amazing. So where to eat in summer? I'm going to start my with one of my very favourite things: cheese at the Chedi.
If you have an afternoon to while away - and in fact, if you don't, make one, because if you fail to build enough mini-treats and getaways into your summer, you will go insane - a cheese platter at the bar of the Chedi restaurant is a supremely elegant, tasty, and zen way to spend a few hours. You should ideally do this with a wine-drinking friend. I did it with two and that worked even better. Please note that with the exception of drink-driving and causing a public nuisance, all social rules related to alcohol are suspended during summer months. So you may as well order the bottle. The Chedi has an award-winning wine list and it would be really offensive not to try one of them. No it doesn't matter if it's daytime! You're not listening! This is what I'm saying you see; we have to make the best of things, and if you're going to make the best of things, you may as well make it the absolute best possible. Wine. Friends. French chef. Cheese. Chedi.
What cheeses? The Chedi has relationships with some of the top cheesemongers in the world so they always have something exciting on hand, although you might not find the same cheese twice. My advice: do what we did, and just let Executive Chef Sebastien Cassagnol pile up your plate after hearing your preferences (yes to stinky/no to stinky, etc). He is an expert and very charming, and he really loves cheese - even values English cheeses, despite clearly being French. The plate comes with little cubes of quince jelly, generous bunches of grapes, and fresh-from-the-bakery breads. A selection of three varieties is OMR 6.5++ although we doubled up with six types (has a handsome French chef ever offered you more cheese? Impossible to refuse). It's all flavoursome and wonderfully different to supermarket cheeses, and the setting as well as the food make it an experience; you can really take your time and savour everything, shaving off slivers of quince, spreading the soft cheeses on the bread - remembering to cleanse your palette with that wine before sampling the next cheese variety - breathe in the Chedi ambience and that lovely signature scent it has, another slice of the blue, and bang! There you go. One more unbearable summer afternoon just became awesome.