Friday, August 18, 2017

Monsoon blues

Here we go again. Another hot season ends, and another monsoon season begins. The drizzles arrived early in May this year. They turned into heavy showers. Now it is raining buckets.

The six reasons why I hate monsoon season in Yangon.The six reasons why I hate monsoon season in Yangon.

Officially, there are three seasons in Myanmar, but I feel we have been robbed of winter in Yangon—and as far as I understand climate change won’t help.

Some people will tell you that they were desperately expecting the rain as they could not have taken the heat anymore. True, the temperature has fallen. But look at the window: it is bleak, it is grey, and it is wet.

Not yet convinced monsoon season is a curse? Well, follow the Yangonite through his journey.

Power cuts

Running out of battery is not a strange phenomenon for someone who grew up in Myanmar. People here always wonder when the lights will go off. But for some reason blackouts are becoming more frequent during monsoon season.

When I was a kid, my mum used to say: “Here come the clouds, I bet the electricity will be out soon”. Most of the time, she was right. I know we cannot prevent monsoon from happening, but all the more reasons to fix the country’s power grid.

Myanmar has entered the 21st century, we are told, but sometimes it feels like we are still living in the “dark ages”.


Before I start moaning, I would like to spare a thought for the people living in Sagaing, Magwe and Mandalay where lives are being claimed more than anywhere else in the country during rainy season.

But let’s get back to my Yangon rants. We’ve had a storm this year, which surely took everybody by surprise. But in parts of the city, it does not take more than an hour of showers for the streets to be completely swamped.

Take South Oakklar, the township I live in. One morning, the water went so high that it completely paralysed the roads. Cars had water up to the wheels and automobilists were cursing as their engines stalled.

Walking down the street, I saw people living on the ground floor frenetically baling out their living rooms.

As I was walking away from this apocalyptic scenery, I almost tripped on a block of concrete which was rolling undercurrent.

Tell me this is a good way to start your day.

Mud and potholes

You have managed to escape your neighborhood. Still, you have to make it to the office.

To your boss and colleagues, you have to be presentable, right? But monsoon will not let you have it your way.

Before you reach your desk you will probably get splashed by zooming cars or by a kid jumping in a pothole — I mean, I enjoy the occasional splash of water during the Thingyan festival but there are limits.

I can’t really blame the driver. He too has to deal with the rain, sometimes facing dangerous situations on the road.


You always have to be careful about what you put in your mouth. This is especially true during monsoon season. Street vendors are not equipped to deal the rain. They struggle to protect their products adequately and winds push dirty waters onto their food stalls.

Still, even during rainy season, most of us get their athote from street vendors as it is cheap and easy to grab.

And many fall victims to dysentery or diarrhea.

Restaurants are not spared either. Everywhere during monsoon, as the level of the water increases, the level of hygiene decreases.


During monsoon season rain is everywhere. Outside, of course, but also inside.

Come back home, take off your wet clothes, and your house is infected. Monsoon means more tidying and more cleaning.

But that, at least, is your own smell. Consider the unpleasant feeling of a bus packed with damp passengers. You wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with this drenched man, or sit down on this smelly wet seat.


Ok, that’s enough. I am opting for the taxi. Not that my salary really allows me to, but at least I’ll be dry in there.

Unfortunately, I am not the only one looking for a ride. Everybody rushes to get a cab during monsoon season but the increase in demand is not matched by an increase in offer. I heard many cab drivers are simply not working when it rains as they risk damaging their cars.

Finally, one taxi is coming my way to take me home. “Balout lae?”, I ask. What? 25 percent more? “The heavy rain,” the driverexplains.

I hate monsoon season.