Dubai rain
A Dubai resident scampers across the street during heavy rain in Al Qusais on May 2, 2024. Although it didn't rain heavily, people generally heeded the warning and stayed home. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Has the fun gone out of the rain? That begs the question, is rain fun? Depends on the ferocity and frequency of the rain. It’s fun if it’s a short cloudburst that makes a rare appearance. But rain can be deadly if the downpour continues long enough to create floods.

I come from Kerala, a southern state of India, where rain is a regular phenomenon. The monsoon is so prompt that it always arrives on the first day of school. That means dripping wet new uniforms and squelchy shoes. I used to get an earful from my mother regularly for losing umbrellas; I carry them to school but forget to return them since the rain would’ve vanished by then.

We don’t wait for the rain to stop because it could go on for 24 hours or more, although it may become a drizzle in between before picking up intensity. So life goes on. We picked up an umbrella and walked into the rain. It wasn’t fun, but we lived with it — the damp clothes and slippery sandals.

Rare rain is a reason to celebrate

When did rain become fun for me? That happened right after I moved to Doha, Qatar. Rain became a rarity, and I longed to see it every time I went home for holidays. The sentiment persisted even after I moved to Dubai. My love for rain only grew with every scorching summer. So when it rained, I drove around whenever possible. Once, my car crashed after it hydroplaned on the slick road near Outh Metha. That was years back.

The rain never really worried me, even when accompanied by thunder and lightning. Maybe because of the familiarity. But rain can be dangerous, claims lives too. I remember the Indian News Review reels played in theatres before the movies, where cyclone havoc in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal used to be a regular feature. Even now, Chennai in Tamil Nadu state tends to be submerged in floodwaters during rain.

When floods hit Kerala in 2018, the worst in the state’s history, I wasn’t there. I was safely ensconced in the warmth of Dubai. So I never experienced the fury of monsoons and devastating floods. That was until April 16.

Dubai residents brave the rain and wind to go to their workplaces on May 2, 2024. While most people worked from home, many others had to go to work despite the morning rain. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Why rains are not as bad as hurricanes

The harrowing reports only served to highlight what people in the United States endure every year when hurricanes brewing in the Atlantic make landfalls on the mainland. I remember the battering of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, inflicting massive damage in 2005. Twelve years later, Hurricane Harvey swept through Louisiana and Texas, sowing death and destruction.

We are fortunate to avoid such catastrophic weather, which rips lives and livelihoods. Rain is much milder than the havoc wrought by cyclones and hurricanes.

I was working from home when the UAE was lashed by the heaviest rainfall in 75 years. I knew this rain wasn’t fun. Warnings had gone in advance of the possible hazards of heavy rain from the low-pressure weather system. While I stayed at home, heeding the advice from the authorities, many others were not so lucky. Those who had to travel to work were surprised by the rising waters as cars were stuck on flooded roads and public transport ground to a halt. That was unprecedented. Scary too.

But we tided over the record rainfall and its aftermath as Good Samaritans and social workers got to work, sometimes even risking their lives. Government agencies swung into action to clear roads and put public transport and flights back on track.

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Barely did we recover from the largest rainfall, here comes the rain of May 2. Although it wasn’t expected to be as bad as the previous rain, nobody was taking chances. Government warnings hit my phone so often that I didn’t even think of taking a walk around my neighbourhood, let alone going for a drive. By 1pm, the rain had completely stopped, yet I refused to go out.

Rain means work from home

Never expected rain to strike fear in me. Last year I was driving through blinding rain at night on E611, and I enjoyed it every bit. April 16 took the fun out of rain. So I remain indoors. I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Well, I’m working from home this time too. It’s so boring to remain tethered to a chair. No tea breaks, no chats with colleagues, no samosas and no meetings: work has become monotonous. Missed the long drive to the office; I never knew I would miss the traffic on E311.

The sun is shining through. I’ll be back at work tomorrow. Can’t wait to hit the road again. The fun surely has gone out of rainy days.