It’s October and everyone who paid attention in grade 5 tells me knowingly that it’s the maha monsoon and will go on till November. As far as I am concerned it feels like it’s been raining since the beginning of time and its high time for it to just stop. Like most Sri Lankans, I love the sun but few I think, detest the rain like I do. I know, I know, we need the rain for stuff to grow and for the farmers to make a living and we must marvel at the great cycle of the seasons etc etc., but really.
In Sri Lanka, most houses are naturally built to be cool, with verandahs, high roofs, good ventilation and indoor gardens that let in the light and breeze in the stifling heat of April and May. Even rural homes built in the traditional style of clay earth walls and thatched roof are designed to suit the local climate.
That is, when it’s dry.
When it’s pouring down for a solid hour or two at a time though, that’s when you get to experience all the design flaws of local tropical architecture in an unplanned city. The water beats into the verandahs and open areas, furniture is ruined, roofs leak, potholes turn into ponds, lawns turn into lakes, storm drains overflow and roads flood. Everyone drives like it’s the Apocalypse and they have to get home in time to rescue their families – especially those fuck-off monster SUV’s whooshing tidal waves upon everyone else as they pass, laughing gaily because this was exactly what they bought them for. Meanwhile the littlest cars proceed timidly down Havelock Road at about 2 miles an hour with water upto the windows and their headlights on high-beam all the way.
The monsoon effective umbrella has yet to be designed. You get wet getting into the car, you get soaked getting out again. In buses people stand packed and dripping on each other and poke each other’s eyeballs out trying to fold umbrellas turned inside out by the wind. Everyone’s socks are soaked through and smell. Trishaw drivers efficiently put up those black canvas flaps to keep out the rain but they always come loose and you get drenched from both sides while the driver stays relatively dry. In any case their engines fail as soon as they get into a large puddle and that’s that.
Back home, after weeks of non-stop rain, the garden has gone mad and is about to destroy the house with leaves stopping up the gutters, falling trees, trailing vines, waist high grass and thriving leafy plants that turn into perfect homes for dengue carrying mosquitoes.
You can’t get any exercise because it rains in the morning and it rains in the evening, so you can’t even go for a walk. You can’t swim because there’s crazy lightning. Cable TV dies and so does the internet and most people are terrified of taking a phone call in a thunderstorm. Usually the lights go out so you can’t read. In the end, everyone lights candles and stays nervously at home while the dog barks madly and runs around and around the house.
I’m just waiting for December when the sun will be back.