Thursday, March 17, 2011

Black Hole Sun

I bought an umbrella today, which by rights I should never have had to do. This is the season of the inferno in Thailand, and yet the sun has been elusive since mid-February. Warm cloudiness greeted my children when they arrived and prevailed into their departure and beyond. And I've acclimated enough that I like cloudy weather--a good old tropical depression no longer depresses me.

But rain in March is completely wrong. The occasional thunderstorm is always diverting, whenever it shows up--but not drenching rain that bounces back up from the road after it falls, not the kind that bursts out of its swollen clouds just about the time that you've decided to go out and find your dinner. (Three bottles of Minute Maid Pulpy from the convenience cooler of my apartment building doesn't make a meal, but my choices were either Coke, Fanta, or Sprite. Thank heaven Coca-Cola bought Minute Maid for that little jolt of almost-nourishment.)

I live in a Thai building which means the apartments have no kitchen. If I were culinarily inclined, I'd do what local people do in such a building and buy a gas cylinder with a burner attached and make food on that. Or even worse, and more popular in Thailand now, buy a microwave and some frozen meals. The first option terrifies me and the second disgusts me. I moved to one of the world's great food cities so I'd never have to cook again. And the idea never crosses my mind until the season of the deluge hits and food vendors disappear as the rain torrents down upon them. But this is happening about four months earlier than it ought to and I'm not mentally prepared for the "rainy season diet."

For me, this consists of salted nuts and fruit, fresh orange juice and beer--but only if I'm foresighted enough to buy these things early in the day, before it begins to pour. Yes, there are delivery services--even McDonald's will deliver to apartments--and it's possible to have almost any cuisine in the world brought to your door. The Catch-22 is when it rains, traffic comes to a halt and even the delivery motorcycles have trouble negotiating their way through that standstill. And of course, every wuss in Bangkok wants their food brought to them on nights that resemble the forty nights that had inspired Noah to build his ark. Good luck, suckers. I'd rather feast on broken dried noodles from a package of Mama.

Rain in Bangkok rarely is accompanied by chill, but this bout of precipitation has brought a cold snap with it. Laugh if you will, but a 30-degree drop in temperature is cold in any language. I'm wearing a sweater and socks, my windows are closed, and my fans aren't running, which has the cat freaked out because they provide a constant background noise for his life, under normal circumstances.

On one side of the city, there's a weird gleam in the air that would almost be encouraging, except for the bank of menacing clouds that are closing in on the other side. I should feel well-prepared; after all, I bought an umbrella.

It came apart in my hands before it ever made it home--Chinese workmanship at its finest. I know it's an omen of some kind but I'll be damned if I can decide what it means--probably nothing more than "Never buy a umbrella out of season--you'll end up with one that they couldn't sell during those monsoon days that came when they were supposed to."


Amanda said...

the rain I could cope with but no kitchen????

janet brown said...

I cooked for 20 years--for me that's an asset! Of course that only works when you live in a country where food is fresh, delicious and very cheap.