Yesterday was our official initiation to the monsoon season of Lahore and it was NUTS. There is a strong and compelling reason for that capitalization…really it should be bolded and underlined and prefaced with a stronger word that perhaps involved explicit profanity, because I have never seen (or even imagined!) such an instant flash flood in my life! I’ve seen monsoon rains before; I’ve watched water slash down in wild sheets, making screens and walls out of the rain. And I’ve seen the fat, heavy raindrops that literally fall like gumdrops, bouncing with the solid weight of jelly in the street gutters. I’ve also seen rain turn streets into shallow rivers and walkways into ankle deep puddles, but like I said before, this all pales beside yesterdays flash flood. It started raining (gumdrop rain…wild sheets kinda rain!) at 7:00am and tapered off around 9:00/10:00am. By the time we were picked up at 10 past 8:00 in the morning the world around us was swimming. Our street became a river with thigh high currents of brown water…The canals were over flowing and vehicles were stranded, tipped sideways. I watched a motorcycle plow it’s way through the water behind us, with only the handle bars and rider visible! People were wading through knee-deep, waist-deep water with things piled high on their heads and all this time all my brain could process, like a record on repeat, was “but it wasn’t raining for that long…?” “Where did all this water come from…?”
Despite all this, our normal 5 minutes drive to work took only 10 and when we were greeted by the superintendent, soggy and soaked, her merry response was “Welcome to the monsoon season in Pakistan!”. “Does this happen often?” we queried as a co-worker described watching his kids toys float through their bedroom on an inside stream of water, “In the monsoon season it does!” was her bright reply. Believe it or not, by the time we ventured home 5 hours later our street was dry and steaming in the afternoon heat. Just a brown line of dirt on the walls and gates marked the earlier water level, and if you hadn’t known then you wouldn’t have guessed it.