There are two kinds of people in our city: the penguins and the lizards. You can’t tell them apart by looking at them. In fact, you could be in a room full of lizards right now and not even know it. But don’t worry – if you keep your wits about you, everything should be okay. They’re harmless enough, as long as you avoid one sensitive subject. The thing is, the two tribes don’t see eye to eye and you’ll have to pick a side. That’s right: an air conditioning war is being fought in Dubai, and in this fight there is no room for neutrals.
The penguins love the cold. They’re never happier than when working up an icy frost in offices, shops and taxis across the city. No matter how hot it gets outside, the penguins are determined to keep their environment at a permanent 12°C. If the rest of us are cold, we can slip on a jacket. And gloves, scarves and fur-lined boots.
The lizards are polar opposites. As far as lizards are concerned, the best way to cool off is to stick out a parched tongue and pant for a while. They believe we really don’t need air conditioning indoors, and besides, a tropical 32°C is a perfectly reasonable temperature for a meeting room.
At this point I should disclose my allegiances. I belong to a third party. My brethren are a true minority and a dying breed – those who set the temperature on the air conditioning just right. Not too hot, not too cold, but just in the middle.
I know that everybody says the same thing, but there is a fundamental difference between me and them: I am right and they are wrong. You have to trust me. Never is the war more fiercely fought than during the summer and no battleground will see conflict as bitter as Time Out Towers. Firm friendships and professional disagreements are cast aside when it comes to controlling the air conditioning in the offices of this esteemed magazine. With just one button controlling the air flow for the entire team, it seems unlikely that there will be any resolution.
Occasionally there are peace talks and a happy medium is found. I myself have been asked to mediate between rival camps, and temporary truces have been agreed upon. But the lizards and the penguins are weak, and one or the other always breaks. As soon as one (usually the penguins, but not always) nips out to buy a celebratory ice cream, the other will make a dash for the controller and the air starts blasting again. So, until we all agree to get along, I’ll keep a scarf hat in my top drawer.