remembering the rain - 2012.03.28


Bad weather always looks worse through a window. 
Tom Lehrer 



i come from a country that has two seasons: wet and dry and either one is a losing proposition: it's too hot during the dry season and i spend the days panting like dog who's run after one frisbee too many.

the wet season is no better: even the slightest sustained rainfall causes flooded streets, huge traffic jams, power outages, electrocutions, and people to break out the canoes they have been keeping in the closet just for such an occasion.

really, they should change the textbooks and say instead, that there are two seasons in the philippines: "it buuuurrrnnnsss" and "get in the boat if you want to live".

it's enough to make one wish that for god's sake can i live in a country where flooded streets is a calamity, rather than the norm; some place reasonably sunny all year long would be just the place for me, thank you.

be careful what you wish for.

i now live in a country where, yes on those rare occasions when the streets do get flooded,  the entire event is the the national headline for at least two weeks and yes it takes an insane amount of sustained rainfall before any flooding of any sort happens.

it does sound like paradise compared to where i came from, except that singapore, too, has just two seasons, apparently:  hot and hotter.

call me insane, but i now know that rather be drenched, cold, and drowning, calling out to a kayak receding in the distance, than dying of heatstroke.

this is to say, that yes, i miss the rain.  i don't miss the floods and leptospirosis that much, to be honest and i could do without being electrocuted.  but i do miss the rain.

you see, in the philippines, when it rains, everybody grabs boots, umbrellas, a paddle, just in case, and of course jackets.

that is because in the philippines, it is cold when it rains.  the wind picks up, the occasional tin roof flies past you, and the temperature drops.  and hey, you might not have electricity and you will have probably have to wade through at least thigh deep water at some point or maybe even swim for your life, but at least you're not sweating and panting from the heat (you could be sweating and panting from shock or exposure though).

which is the exact opposite in singapore.  i found it strange at first, you know.  it rains buckets and people will sometimes whip out their umbrellas--only sometimes: it is possible to get from one end of the city to the other without getting wet--but hardly anyone wears a jacket.

i was dumbstruck the first time i saw it and thought these guys must be out of their minds, it was raining like mad: of course i should go get my jacket.  why would anybody not wear a coat when it rains?

so i did, and i put it on and zipped up and got on the train, got to the office.  not a single drop of rain on my very dry jacket. i shrugged my jacket off, there i was holding a jacket in one hand, mopping my face with the other, dripping with sweat, looking like an idiot.

in my mind i was screaming: how can i be sweating when it's raining like the world is ending?  so i stepped outside to try and understand it, felt what little breeze there was and realized: sure enough it's raining, but that does not mean it is colder in singapore.

oh my god.  it's hot even when it rains.

after i took this picture and ran it through post processing, it reminded me with  surprising vividness what the rainy season felt like in the philippines: it felt wet and cold, and the streets were flooded, and the wind howled through the trees and roofless houses and all that stood out in stark contrast against what a rainy day in singapore felt like: wet and hot.

be careful what you wish for indeed.
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