Sharjah Rain
A Sharjah resident caught in the rain in Al Majaz on April 16, 2024. Rain is fine if don’t have to go to school or office. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Do you love rain? Everyone does, I guess. Some people hate getting wet, but that’s the best part for me. Nothing beats walking down wet streets with an umbrella and water lapping around the ankles. Those are memories triggered by the pitter-patter on my window sill today.

As lightning streaks across the leaden skies and thunder rumbles in the distance, my mind travels back to the days I drove around Dubai with rain lashing the windscreen before stopping to pick up tea and hot pakoras (an Indian savoury snack). That was fun. Twenty years back, rain was a rarity; we would get four or five days of rain in a year. So rainy days were dear. But not for the motorists who had to drive through waterlogged roundabouts. I too had done it, worrying about my car.

Times are different now. We have had an extended winter with extra spells of rain from cloudseeding. The reservoirs in the UAE must have replenished and the water table would have risen, but for me, the rains have delayed the scorching summer. I love it. So will the legion of tourists visiting the country.

Rain can’t stop work and studies

Rain no longer disrupts work and schooling. Distance learning and working from home may be the contributions of the dark days of COVID-19, but that has made life easier. We no longer have to risk driving on slick roads and negotiate flooded roundabouts. While our children attend online classes, we can make ourselves a hot cuppa, sit before computers, and pound away on keyboards. Cool, isn’t it?

Cool indeed. But not for the people who must get out to do their work: medical personnel, police patrols, cabbies and many others who staff the essential services. Please spare a thought for the delivery boys on motorbikes, rushing to bring our groceries and food. They take the risk to keep us safe. So don’t forget to tip them well.

Some of us think of rain as a nuisance. A damper when you want to be outdoors. Not for me. I grew up in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where 24-hour rain was not uncommon. You don’t wait for the rain to stop to do anything. Just pick up an umbrella and keep going to classes or work.

Dubai Police managing traffic on a road during the rain on Saturday
Dubai Police managing traffic on a road during a recent rain. While rain is fun and keeps most people indoors, police, medical personnel, cabbies and staff at the essential services have to work to keep us safe. Image Credit: X/@DXBMediaOffice

The sights and sounds of rain

Hawai slippers (the predecessor of modern-day Flipflops) were the chosen footwear, although they tend to throw muddy splotches up the rear. Leather sandals and sneakers would be squelchy as you wade through the waterlogged roads. I remember drying our school shoes atop woodfired clay ovens; they would be bone-dry but stiff the next day.

There’s a romance to the rain in Kerala. The sights and sounds are something to behold. As the skies draw dark, you can hear the rain approaching. It starts with howling winds that chase raindrops around. What starts as a pitter-patter on the roofs and leaves turns into a heavy downpour with water running through the yard before gurgling down the streams that lead to the nearby river. Storks soon descend on paddy fields for their statuesque wait for tiny frogs and insects. It’s dinner time for them.

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For us, it’s time for black coffee or tea. Roasted peanuts and pakoras will follow. But no television. Lightning can mess them up. So electronic devices in the house are unplugged. Which means bedtime comes early.

Well, they are memories from another day. As I stare at the desktop screen, I long for a hot cup of black tea. Maybe I’ll get some roasted nuts. Banana bread too. Let me raid the kitchen. The skies have gone dark again.