Floody rains in the desert
You don’t normally think of rains in the desert. Deserts are supposed to be… deserty, right? And the Middle East is the desertiest of all known deserts. When you think of the Middle Eastern desert, you think of an Arab nomad herding a line of camels on top of dry mountains of sand dunes, withering under the harsh, scorching sun, his face wrapped in a head-scarf to protect it against the dry, dry blasts of sand particles in the air, which are – let me remind you – dry.
Try to imagine a serious downpour washing down this image. What happens? The camels drown and the sand dunes get washed away to reveal the big black reservoir of oil it was covering up all along, right? Just like when the ocean knocked over your sand castle like a vengeful bully that one time. But no, real life deserts behave slightly differently.
Deserts are deserts because they get a really poor share of rain. I’ve been in the UAE for five years now, and I remember the first couple of years, when rain was limited to a couple of hours of stingy, light drizzles a year. At that point, I actually missed the monsoons in India. Sure, even back then, rain was a stinking, horrid, traffic-congealing hazard, but it was so romanticized in popular media that you couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for it anyway.
Into each life, some rain must fall. The key there is ‘some’. You don’t want a lot of it. Especially not in a place that’s poorly equipped to handle it. The UAE boasts some of the most awesome engineering structures in the world. It has the world’s tallest tower, indoor skiing structures, amazing water theme parks, and man made islands that visitors are continuously dazzled by. But it has next to no experience in drainage.
The architects of the ‘city of dreams’, apparently couldn’t dream up a way of discarding excess water. A storm water drainage system is so basic to city planning it must have come up in conversation some time – I imagine a fresh faced, smiling intern at least mentioned it in passing as the blueprints for the city were drawn. I also imagine he was laughed out of office for his naivety – “Excess water? Storm water drainage? Ha ha. Where do you think you are, son? The Carribean Islands? Just go get me a coffee and let the big boys make the plans.”
The only storms people associated with the region were sandstorms. As a result, the only real protection from storm water in Dubai today is climbing up the tallest tower and waiting for it to pass over. But then that’s only possible for the richest jackasses.
A few paragraphs earlier, I had mentioned light drizzles from years ago that lasted for mere hours; They were so light they’d hardly register as rain back in India. It’s the kind of rain that would be laughed off by the weathermen and shamed ruthlessly by meteorologists. It’s the kind of rain that wouldn’t hamper outdoor matches or even barbecue parties back in India. But in the UAE, even this weakling of a storm would do some damage.
And then there was last week.
On the 9th of March, 2016, we had a real storm in UAE. Compared to the standard Indian thunder, this rain in Dubai was still just a light shower – if it had struck India, it would have been fought off with a raincoat, a towel and a shrug. But in the UAE, it broke havoc – The winds and waterlogged ducts broke through buildings, it shattered glass windows, fell trees, and drowned cars in many regions. Simple cars with no history in water sports were suddenly auditioning for obstacle swim races.
The rain pumped sewage out into the streets, and floated it into houses. It ate into furniture, clogged up car engines (including some supercars), caused panic-driven accidents in record numbers and swamped up the roads to such an extent that many houses could not be accessed at all. Including mine.
I was locked out of home sweet home by a moat of swampy sludge that was dying to get its hands on my car. My car, a poor sedan with modest horsepower, would have whimpered to death in it. Friends and well-wishers told me not to attempt to go home on the 9th, unless I had scuba gear in hand. I did not, so I decided to stay with a friend, outside the floody zone of terror.
It’s been five days now – more than enough for a decent city to seep up the storm water and move on. But Dubai is still reeling from the after-effects. Some roads have cleared, but others are still mired in muddy lakes and abandoned cars. Even the roads which have dried up – they’re not back to normal yet. The roads are thickly caked with sand residue.
The city has plans to use trucks and dredging equipment to clear up the place. But it’s not an easy task, and it’s definitely not a quick process.
So while we wait for the city to get back on its soaked, muddy feet, we have to ponder why the rains are getting worse every year. What could it be? I would have suggested Global Warming, but politicians and oil companies both tell us that’s just a myth. So that theory’s out right off the bat; I mean they can’t BOTH be wrong, can they?
So what else could be the cause of it all? I have been here since 2010 December, and it kinda started the big spiral of climate collapse. It’s almost as if it’s linked to my arrival into the region. So… what could it be? Maybe a megalomaniac supervillain has started phase one of his plan? Maybe, but Trump is busy in the US. Maybe it’s a mutant with control over the weather? Maybe, but Storm doesn’t have any reason to punish me. I mean, the only weather powered being who DOES have an axe to grind with me is… Oh.
No. No, no, no, no. Could it be? It’s not possible… Is it? Goddamn it, Zeus!!
For those who don’t know, I have a personal history fighting against the God of thunder and lightning – Zeus. He’s always had it in for me, for some reason. But in 2008, I fought back… and lost. I tried to resist again, but lost again. Finally, I gave up, and fled to the desert, hoping he’d quit after that. But in 2014, he showed up again, JUST to mess with me. And now, clearly, he’s back, and he’s become meaner, more petty, and just a plain bully.
I don’t know what to do. I can’t keep fighting deities. I tried apologizing, but that didn’t work either. It’s not a job I can handle. I need reinforcements. Maybe – just maybe – I can get Thor to help me sort it out. Letting the Gods fight it out would be the best plan, methinks. I’ve written a letter to Marvel – hopefully, they can loan him to me for a bit. This will work. Maybe they can also let the Hulk help.
This will be great. Thor and the Hulk, together, can fight anybody. Even the capricious bully, Zeus. Unless Zeus belongs to DC Comics; then I’m screwed.