It all started late last night with an excited and nervous phone call from my landlord. ‘Typhoon!’ he said, ‘Tonight!’. ‘Or tomorrow morning…’ he qualified. ‘Biiiiig rain. Big, big, big wind! Be careful about the water!’ he warned.
I don’t blame him for being a little gun shy – while I was home in Australia the house had a slight internal waterfall issue during a typical Shanghai afternoon deluge. Thanks to a pot plant I left covering the drain on the roof terrace. The water couldn’t go down the drain, and it had to go somewhere, so it came indoors, in a big rush, forcing the upstairs door open then running spectacularly down three flights of stairs to the office on the ground floor. It took three days for the wiring to dry out enough to stop short-circuiting every time a light was turned on.
But a typhoon – exciting! We don’t have typhoons in Australia – well we do, but they’re called cyclones. And I’ve been near enough of those to know it’s not all beer and skittles when your tin roof is blowing off and cricket ball-sized hailstones are smashing the windows. But a part of me loves an impressive display of weather, especially if observed from inside a waterproof house. Bring it on, I thought.
|View from the typhoon bunker, 9am
So I waited. Overnight very little happened.A few spots of rain. No howling winds. No torrential downpours. I even brought all the outdoor chairs and smaller plants inside. At 7am, expecting a boiling, black sky I woke instead to blue sky and small fluffy white clouds. Then school called to say all schools in Shanghai were cancelled for today. Wow. They must know something I don’t. So I tracked Typhoon Kompaso on weather channels and web forums, stayed indoors and waited. And waited.
Hunger overtook at midday and, throwing caution aside, we all cycled down to our local Wagas for a coffee and a bowl of pasta. Stupid, stupid, stupid. The weather of course, chose that very moment to unravel. Lightning, thunder, then that typical tropical downpour. You first feel a single drop on your forehead, then the very next moment you’re drenched. It’s not called qīngpén dàyǔ (tip dish big rain) for nothing. Someone up there just up-ended the washing up water.
So now it’s 5pm, and still nothing worse than some very wet rain, and a puddle under my chair at Wagas.