Living in Egypt is completely different from living in Singapore. In Singapore, an umbrella is a must inside our bags or cars. I have dozens of them at home, different colors, designs and types.
In Egypt, umbrellas are a rarity, so much so that when I gave an umbrella to a colleague, she thanked me so profusely and said that I am an angel. I really don’t understand why the Egyptians don’t use umbrellas especially to protect them from the fiery hot sun. The fact that the umbrella is colloquially called ‘Syamsiah’ or ‘sun’ bewilders me more.
Nevertheless, rain is also a rarity in Egypt. If it does come, which is like once or twice in summer and less than 5 times in winter, it’ll only be like a few seconds and it will stop as abruptly as it started.
I remembered the first time it rained in 2012, since I came to Egypt. I was in the teachers’ room when a fellow teacher opened the door hurriedly and announced to the teachers inside that it was raining. She looked excited as she put her books on her table and rushed out followed by other teachers. I didn’t understand what the commotion was so I went outside too, to see what was going on. I saw scores of teachers and students standing at the corridor, just watching the heavy rain. (Lessons actually stopped to allow the students to come out of the classroom). There were cheers, applause and laughters. I really didn’t understand why.
A minute later, the rain stopped suddenly, followed by cheering of the students and teachers. Seeing my puzzled face, an American colleague from Florida whispered to me that rain is very rare in Egypt. Immediately I understood and smiled at my colleague. It was a strange experience.
Yesterday was the first time I experienced real rain. We were walking home from Walmart when it started to rain quite heavily. I didn’t bring an umbrella because I was used to not bring an umbrella when I was in Egypt. My daughter brought hers but we couldn’t use it because we were carrying lots of plastic bags of groceries.
So we continued walking in the rain. A pleasant feeling surged in me as I felt the light tapping of raindrops on my body and listened to the soft pitter-patter melody of the raindrops on the pavements. It was blissful.