For The Love of Typhoons

August 23, 2012

There are all kinds of storms brewing around us.  Typhoon Tembin has been threatening to invade our small tropical island for daaaays.  Seriously, this is the most wishy washy typhoon I’ve ever met, she looks like she’s heading this way, but then she’s taking her sweet time, giving the weather forecasters and the general public plenty of time to create drama.  The intensity, the direction, the speed, the amount of rain it will bring, the level of winds that will come, all this changes as fast as my daughter changes her mind about what to have for breakfast.  Though our young maiden typhoon Tembin is indecisive, she has a suitor!  Yes, another typhoon is trailing behind her, and get this:  his name is Beloven.  No kidding?!  “Beloven Be Lovin’ Tembin.” The setting is perfect as Tembin makes landfall on the Chinese Valnetine’s Day. Okay, enough with the cheesy puns, people, two typhoons heading straight for us, this means business.  Stock up on stuff, cuddle cozy with your family, it’s time for a storm.

This afternoon I went grocery shopping in preparation for some indoor days.  Supermarkets in Taiwan are often scattered with various sales people offering samples of food items being sold.  It is very popular amongst Taiwanese people but I typically find them irritating in the way one feels when one is being forced to buy something one doesn’t want.  I am browsing the aisles with my extra large umbrella (it had started raining on my way in the store) sticking awkwardly out of my tiny shopping cart.  A saleslady shoves a morsel of food on a toothpick in my face offering a sample and as usual I pull a crafty evasive maneuver with a quip of “no thank you” before moving on.  A few moments later, I hear her call out after me in a tone of voice stripped of the sales pitch,

“Has it started raining outside?” She didn’t miss my ginormous rain gear.

“Yeah, yeah it’s raining.”  I’m a little disoriented having been interrupted from my focused path to the next destination: frozen peas.

“Is it raining hard?” The supermarket is three levels below ground floor, she really has no idea what the weather is like.

“Yeah, it was starting to rain big drops out there.”

“Is it windy?”

“Yeah, wind is starting to pick up.”

“So it’s coming, the typhoon is really coming.”

We exchange shy smiles filled with an air of nervous excitement knowing the storm’s upon us as I continue my errand.  Yet that small conversation lingered in my mind as I reflected on how the weather somehow connected us, two strangers who have nothing in common except a briefly shared space in a department store.  It reminded me of how I must be missing the big picture if I passed by this woman thinking she was just another commercial tool used to coerce an economic transaction instead of a fellow citizen on our little island.  We may have different families, ideas, jobs, background, but we were there in the same geographic location, sharing in the anticipation of a big storm together.  And for that one moment we bonded.

I went through the checkout register and decided to pick up some bread.  As one of the workers at the bakery were helping me, I smiled at her and said, “hey, it’s raining outside.”