Disaster preparedness: Grin and bear it

Just two weeks ago, someone told me that the rainy weather was officially over and we were in for some hot times. I remember this because I am not fond of the heat and I was bracing myself for sunburn, sweating, and just generally feeling gross and unattractive all the time. Just kidding – this is an all year round state of affairs (although much, much worse when it’s especially hot).

Well. That person, like most people who like to make weather forecasts, was clearly wrong. Last week, it rained. And it rained. And it rained. And it flooded.

Most of us were caught by surprise, I think. I know I was. Even though it had not been a sunny week, I kept telling myself that it was just temporary. No need for umbrellas. No need for rain boots. It would pass. And it did. But not before we were reminded of how some things just do not change fast enough, how we really need a better drainage system, how vulnerable our location is and how useful rain boots are.

At least, I was reminded of that last one.

I have two pairs of rain boots.

Actually, that’s not true; I have three pairs but I only remembered the third pair just now and I haven’t seen them in four years so I’m only going to tell you about the other two.

I have a really cute pair (white with blue circles) from Canada that an aunt sent me which I wore at the flag raising ceremony on Independence Day (which got me, as a latecomer, quite decent spots at the barricades which were surrounded by sizable puddles). And I have a really sturdy short black pair that I got at a Chinese store on Regent Street two Decembers ago during yet another episode of flooding. I kept the latter in the vehicle at all times. Not because I’ve got some flood preparation plan or anything – I just put them there once and forgot to remove them.

This forgetfulness came in handy last Thursday. Even though the neighbours were flooded and even though we could hardly see the road on the drive home the afternoon before due to all the water splashing back onto the windscreen from the road, I just went on my merry way to the office sans umbrella or flood preparation plan. Then we hit Georgetown and it was obvious that there had been a serious accumulation of water.

So, I was pretty darn happy to see these boots Thursday morning:

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They’re not much to look at and if I had been in some other parts of town they might have been too short but they did the job that morning

I felt relieved that I had them and quickly turned smug when persons, on seeing them, seemed to regard me as someone who really had my shiz together. I got asked where I had gotten them, if they were mine. I thought to myself, “They should see the other pair at home! That would really impress them.” Aside from the fact that I clearly am unused to positive attention for my fashion choices, there’s another take away here.

Rain boots, or “long boots” as my family would say, are just not a thing here. Not culturally significant. Just not done.

I discovered this when I first wore the lost first pair of rain boots in public. I got lots of stares. Okay, probably half of them were because they were bright yellow. But, I’ve worn less striking ones since then and still gotten the stares.

I’m obviously not the first person to wear rain boots in the country. But I may be one of the few people who wear them as part of an outfit and not for work purposes. It’s just not commonly done. What most people do when it floods is to just bear it – experience some unpleasantness for a while, wash your feet and dry them off.

This would be understandable if it only flooded once in a blue moon. But I’m fairly certain we’ve been experiencing flooding any time it rains hard (which is, in case you’re wondering – how it usually rains here) for the past few decades or so. Also, in some countries, people wear rain boots just to keep their feet dry – not to actually wade in ankle deep (or higher) water.

So, what gives?

Remember when a certain former First Lady wore some shoes that apparently did not go with the outfit she was wearing and everyone took to Facebook to vent about how angry it made them feel? I got to thinking about it last week and wondered: How is a pair of clashing shoes or a lack of a tie an issue of national concern and the majority of the population sloshing about in probably really dirty water not? What is it that elevates certain articles of clothing to national consciousness and not others?

But the really crucial question is: why aren’t there scores of people selling really cute rain boots in a country where flooding is the norm?

Think about it. Footwear to meet the needs of our environment? You know, the way people who live in cold places needed boots to keep their feet warm and, by virtue of necessity and therefore ubiquitous need, boots became a thing and so they got written into fashion codes with the result of stores full of far too many options of boots to choose from? Shouldn’t this have happened here with rain boots? It rains heavily every single year. Whenever it rains heavily, you can expect photos on Facebook of people’s flooded yards or cars swimming in the streets.

Assuming that demand drives supply, where is the demand for rain boots? Is it that “classy” feet are imperative and wet feet inevitable? How long are people prepared to just weather it (pun intended)? Will we ever move the capital city? Sorry, digression.

I guess what I’m here to say is that sometimes, I just get the impression that we spend a lot of time avoiding certain realities and really honing in on the most impractical things which, in the grand scheme of things, don’t really affect our lives for the better, if at all.

Also, my cute pair of rain boots are getting kind of worn out and I’m going to need another pair soon.



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