Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The perfect storm (my ass)

Patrick Swayze was out in the back-break of Nha Trang’s main beach, golden locks flowing in the wind and dripping with saltwater, mixing with the sweat beading on his forehead. Sitting across his nine-foot “rhino-chaser”, his heart was pounding in his throat as his muscles tensed at the sight of the oncoming perfect storm. The ocean bunched on the horizon as the swell picked up and he started to paddle...It was Typhoon Durian. The typhoon that hit Philippines a few days ago, where it killed hundreds, was on its way to Vietnam, and it stank. Like the fruit. Durian stinks. More then you can possibly imagine. The large, spiky green skin encases a yellowy, ripe, seething mass of meat-like, gooey pods that smell like a 10-day old rotting carcass of an alcoholic fisherman festering in a dank, dark alleyway near the harbour, amalgamating with the fishy-blood-and-guts odours of the wharf. And people eat it. And now it is was a typhoon.

Typhoon Durian hit Vietnam’s east coast last night, first making land off Quy Island, about 120 km off the mainland, then sweeping over the coastal resort city of Nha Trang and further inland, wreaking havoc and destruction, sinking more than a 1000 ships, leaving death and disaster in its wake. The government took drastic action, evacuating as many as 50 000 inhabitants from the predicted hotspots, but at least 15 people have died so far and 1000s are homless.

I took precautionary measures too, not leaving anything to fate or sloppy housekeeping, as I thought it would hit HCM City. I tied down the pot plants in the garden, nailed shut the windows and filled up the gap under the doors with polyfilla putty. I sticky-taped the paintings to the walls, glued down the furniture and bubble-wrapped all the glasses and kitchenware in the cabinets. I switched off the electricity, bought a week’s supply of canned food and dog food (for Christoff – I didn’t have much money left after I bought the space blanket and thermal underwear) and rearranged my cupboards survival-style so the most important garments necessary for evacuation were within reach. I crawled under my two duvets and waited. The wind picked up slightly around 11 ‘o clock and a slight buzzing in the air was making the hair on the nape of my neck rise. ‘Must be the static electricity that precedes a deep tropical depression,” I thought. The wind started to howl, the pitter-patter of the rain started slowly, gaining momentum until the individual drops were indiscernible from each other and the drumming increased in velocity. The shutters rattled and the howl of my neighbours dog cut through the noise. I thought, ‘This is it. Durian is here.”

The rain continued for a while, and then abruptly slowed down to an anti-climatic pitter-patter again. I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad no-one got hurt and we didn’t have to evacuate the city and seek shelter in the Mekong Delta, or worse, flee to Cambodia – but still disappointed. I was expecting more from Durian. Even the canal near my house, which usually fills up when a half-decent thunderstorm makes an appearance, was still empty. Maybe Typhoon Chom-Chom will bring the expected pain, anguish and excitement I was expecting. Probably not.


mullet said...

Wouldn't chom chom already have happened? No matter. Killer story bru, Terry Pratchetesque, except for the element of truth. You are not the only one who has recently suffered the terrifying effects of a tropical storm. Surprising as it may be to hear, I have been having similar experiences in the England, and I'm not talking about the hushed whispers that swept the country the morning after the last ashes test, the real thing. Lightning, rain, wind, falling trees and decapitated houses. Pretty intense. Haha! There was even apparently a mini tornado that swept through some tiny town or something. What a classic. Im glad you are still alive bru.

henno said...

I guess chom chom would already have happened. Let's make it...Rambutan - that's the English name for a chom-chom. I didn't know they had those kinda storms in England, weird...glad you're alive too!