Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Sky is Falling

Without warning, or any signs of duress from the weather, a blast of wind came swept through the place. It was as if someone had turned the fan on for an instance, sending half-filled cups flying, lifting skirts and making girls squeal, an avalanche of napkins sailing through the air. The plastic sheets covering a tentage made a dramatic gesture, like how majestic curtains are lifted effortlessly on a stage.

It was beautiful, and when it was over a brief stunned silence ensued. Mother Nature issuing a firm reminder of her presence. Heads turned warily, as if something human was to be blamed for this spate of irregularity. Restaurant staff hurriedly came to clean up the mess and pick up banners that had fallen on the floor. I send out a silent plea, "Do it. Do it again."

I love the wind, and I can't imagine why people wouldn't. Cleansing, carthartic... almost like the rain but without the mess. The potential for destruction always setting us on edge.

The only time I felt fear in its presence was back in Dhaka. The monsoon was coming round, and afternoon rains became routine. I made a mistake of deciding to rush out to buy some smokes to tide over the rest of the afternoon. At that time it the sun was still out, but in the brief couple of minutes during my short walk the sky clouded over and it was clear I would not make it back dry.

So we huddled underneath the tiny zinc roof over the shop, ignoring the theory of personal space. The rain pelted down mercilessly, it was oblivious to our schedules.

Then the wind came, rattling zinc roofs, breaking branches and causing a ruckus amongst the leaves.We looked up at the piece of metal offering us shelther - it was clear it would not hold.

We didn't know what to do. To risk a potential head injury or to get soaked? After a while, the noise became unbearable and we stepped out reluctantly, some of us making a dash for alternate forms of cover.

And just as my feet stepped off the sidewalk and into the rain, the zinc roof came clanging down.

There wasn't much time to stop and consider theories on fate and destiny and luck, I just ran back to the office, trying to avoid trees and their falling branches.

Here in Dhoby Ghaut's Starbucks, there's really no fear to be seen in the faces around me. A lot of irritation, a lot of muttering.