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Sunday, January 15, 2017
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

DON'T go out," she warned. "It's raining." I was standing in the doorway of a house in London, about to step outside.

I turned and shook my head. "This," I said, gesturing outside, "is not rain."

Honestly: Europeans are SO delicate! In that region, they define as "a rainy day" what we in Asia would call "mild humidity." What they define as "a major rainstorm" is an almost imperceptible mist of water vapour, a bit like the weather angel is sitting on the edge of her cloud squirting an Evian atomiser.

The slightest dampness causes Europeans to barricade themselves in their houses and phone flood control. If a drop of water hits the head of a European woman, she is taken to hospital to have it extracted. In England, the law requires that everyone carry an umbrella with them at all times, even while swimming. In cartoons, British monarchs may wear crowns and ermine robes, but the queen's actual ceremonial outfit is a headscarf, raincoat and rubber boots.

Yet the weather in Europe is so mild that we in Asia wouldn't even count it as weather. It's just sort of nothing.

Europeans: Want to see what real rain is like? Come to Asia.

They think the UK is a rainy place, but the average rainfall there is a mere 60 millimetres a month. Compare that to the last big rainfall in Mumbai, which was 1,000 millimetres in a single day.

On a rainy weekend in Hong Kong earlier this month, fish could be seen swimming down a high street. You know that scene in The Little Mermaid where Ariel sits in her den at the bottom of the sea and wonders what life is like on land? Well, the silly girl could just get off her scaly butt and swim to Asia and wait for a decent rainstorm. She could easily swim down the main road, get some sightseeing done, do a bit of shopping, and she wouldn't even have to get her tail dry.

When I was a young reporter I recall writing a story about a truck in Bangladesh, which was in a collision with a large fish. The truck was wrecked and the fish was not too happy either. This rarely happens in Pall Mall.

I also recall writing about a woman in India where the rain turned into a flood, as it often does, so she climbed a tree to finish what she was doing -- having a baby. Now that is what I call "natural birth."

In Europe, after what passes for a rainstorm, pedestrians have to negotiate a slight dampness on the pavements. After a rainstorm in Asia, we have to get on to Google Earth and redraw the borders on our maps.

Personally, I love weather, especially the big stuff. I feel compelled to go outdoors whenever a typhoon or rainstorm hits town. My doctor says this is because I suffer from a rare medical condition known as "idiocy."

I once went out during a major typhoon near my home with a visitor from Europe. At first, he was scathing about how undramatic it was. Then we walked around a corner and were instantly hit by a body of water approximately the size and shape of an Olympic swimming pool.

Now that's rain.

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