It’s probably just a memory lapse due to wind, rain and temperature not being that worthy of recollection. Just think of all the other more exciting subjects which crowd your memory. I think you’ll find that in most heads they leave little space for remembering weather events. Most people in their dotage like Khun Pobaan can remember their first kiss, for example, even though it probably took place decades ago, so the fact that we can’t recall what the weather was like last September just goes to show that getting a surprise soaking in Soi 13 (I think it was), however traumatic it seemed at the time, does not impinge itself on the deeper parts of the memory as does getting your lips sucked numb by an enthusiastic member of the netball/rugby team at some steamy hop on an evening when you’d had severe doubts about the seductive potential of your new Small Faces/Dusty Springfield hairdo. Delete as appropriate.
I cite that rather generalised memory about teenage kisses in an effort to be inclusive to my readers, rather than dragging up a genuine Pobaan experience, but actually they were rendered quite numb.
Thus it is that the world turns, the oceans heave and the winds blow. They all have their jobs to do and their dates to keep. Together, one of the impacts of these titans of the meteorological sphere is to create a bit of excitement in the firmament in Pattaya in September—including a bit of a gale, a five-degree drop in the wall thermometer and lots of rain.
And I mean lots.
We don’t have stair-rods anymore, so I’ll just say that the rain last night was coming down in selfie-sticks.
‘My wife drove to Chonburi yesterday,’ a friend confides. ‘The water on the motorway was over the axles.’
‘Don’t go down the railway road,’ another warns. ‘They’re turning people around at the Floating Market.’
‘Is it still floating?’
‘I should think it’s half-way to Bangkok by now.’
‘Our soi is a cataract; those new drains they put in this year have just got blocked with rubbish. Useless.’
‘I think I’ll tell my gardener not to bother coming in to water the herbaceous borders tomorrow.’
‘It’s good for the reservoir. Last month you could practically walk across.’
‘Jeez. I wasn’t expecting this,’ says a friend who has offered me a lift home. ‘I left the umbrella in the car. Do you mind wading?’
Just as it takes about 11 months for people in the northern latitudes to forget that snow ever existed and that Christmas card scenes must be a myth invented by Prince Albert or the Germans or both, so memories in tropical zones are magically erased of all traces of liquid precipitation in less than a year.
On average, over the centuries, as probably first recorded by some hairy little man with a half coconut shell and a notched stick, in Pattaya we have 300mm of rain in September, a noticeable doubling over the previous month and pretty much ten times the precipitation experienced in December, our most arid month.
Every year it’s the same, more or less, and every year the drains can’t cope, the bars in low-lying areas have to wall themselves in with sand-bags, the guys at the water company are shocked to receive in such abundance a free resource that they can sell on to a thirsty populace and the old boys sitting on their bar stools are gobsmacked that it should come to this: rain falling from the sky in the rainy season. It wasn’t like this in the old days, but then we didn’t have climate change in the old days; the earth’s systems were in proper balance in those days, the Chinese stayed in China and you could tell a ladyboy a mile off.
If you live in Thailand for your whole life, as Mrs Pobaan has done, it seems that eventually you learn to ignore the weather or, at least, accept it without such a song and a dance. When greeting her friends, it is clearly much more interesting for my lovely wife, the gurgle in my storm-drain, to learn what they ate for their lunch and what they plan to cook for their dinner than to pass comment on the thousands of tons of water rushing down our street, knocking over motorbikes and causing cars in the low bits to stall. After all, the weather is something you can do nothing about, while deciding how to marinade a pig’s leg before you fry it, now that’s something worth talking about because it’s controllable. Also food is a generally more engaging topic than finding a torrent of dirty water where the road used to be.
As for me, I remain a stranger in a strange land. Unable to remember when we last had rain as heavy as last night or what I consumed for breakfast this morning, I determine to put my hope in the blue-skied future and greet each tomorrow as a new friend.