Singapore is in the tropics. It is hot and wet. Even in the dryer season it rains almost every day. In the wet season it just rains a bit longer, and a bit harder. With the kind of hammering showers that will soak you to your underwear whilst running the twenty meters it takes to reach your car. Luckily, it never lasts long, and the heat dries you almost as fast. That is Singapore. Hot. And wet.
It is still hot, but now, Singapore is dry, it has been for months. Fifty-five days, to be precise. And I can be precise, because the last drop of rain in our garden fell on January 11th. We were annoyed, because it rained on Jasmijn’s birthday party. We had no idea how much we were going to miss the rain.
Our garden, that is normally a muddy mess, is dry and barren. The earth is red and cracked, making us feel like we live in Africa. The lawn is bald and arid. Despite daily spraying, green leaves droop down withered and brown. The jungle has lost its lustre. The normally lush and impenetrable vegetation seems scant and dusty. The first bush fire in McRitchie Nature Reserve has been spotted, less than a mile from our house. A bushfire! In a tropical rainforest!
Most Singaporeans seem unperturbed by this longest dry spell on record. Inside their high rise flats they turn up the air-conditioning a notch. The news is slowly, slowly picking up the story. Talking about the weather? It’s just not done, in this city where lives are lived inside, apart from those crazy expats in their forest bungalow, which makes taxi drivers wince when they turn into our road.
Singapore has enough water, for now. The large central reservoirs are emptier, not empty yet. Desalination plants run overtime. Neighbour Malaysia has not yet closed the water taps, despite problems with their own, same drought. The other neighbour, Indonesia, is still struggling with the aftermath of the flooding of its capital, just a few islands away.
The first rain is predicted for the end of the month. We wait. We spray the plants, and our heated kids. Tomorrow twenty people will visit us for a barbecue. It must surely rain?