RAINY DAYS

I like and hate the rain. When I was younger, I liked rainy days especially when it became typhoons because it meant classes were cancelled for that day. But when I got older, I began to despise the rain because getting to the university became arduous with the floods that occurred during a heavy downpour. One time I saw a jeepney, a remodeled version of the US Army jeep that ply the streets of the Philippines, stranded under the watery underpass. Let me rephrase that – I saw the roof of a jeepney that was stranded under the watery underpass in downtown Manila.

Rains in Manila meant knee-high or waist-high floods, stranded people in the offices or wherever they maybe at the time the rains come down, cancelled classes and, worse, rural areas swept away because of strong currents and landslides in some areas. It also meant leaky roofs, power outages for hours and no cooked food if you happen to have an electric stove and not a gas stove. Add cancelled outings, excursions, parties and other events, and infuriating traffic jams.

In Singapore, in my earlier years of relocation, it was surprising to see that it was business as usual even during rainy days. The incidents of flooding are only a recent happening, which has, more or less, changed the way things go. What’s more, it was interesting to note that umbrellas were sold at 50 percent off like in Bossini and Giordano.

It’s the rainy season now in Indonesia. I love it when it rains in Bekasi especially after a scorching day. It quells the heat, cooling the surroundings. However, I hate it because it means students and teachers alike coughing, sneezing and sniffling in the air-conditioned classrooms, including me. Just like the Philippines, it also portends flooding – a few minutes of rain and you’ll be ankle-deep in water – as well as grueling traffic jams. Another unwelcome episode is unscrupulous angkot drivers preying on their passengers. The cost of my usual 10-minute ride from my apartment to CyberPark Bekasi fluctuates between Rp2, 000 and Rp2, 500. But during one rainy Thursday, this coarse driver demanded irately Rp3, 000. Arguing with the lout was futile.

But there is an upside to it. A welcome occurrence during unexpected downpours is the umbrella-for-rent businesses. You don’t have to run in to the mall to buy an umbrella; you can rent a golf umbrella for Rp2, 000 to get to, say, the cross the street. The owner of the umbrella – adult and children alike – will follow you to your destination and, no, they do not get under the umbrella with you. They walk in the rain with or without an umbrella of their own or a raincoat.

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