One thing that I have since learned during my five month stay in Beijing is just how temperamental the weather is. The scorching morning sun might bake us alive, In the mornings we are embraced in the muggy, humid pollution, while just hours later we are baked alive by the scorching, afternoon sun. Between the sweat-soaked shirts and lackluster washing machines, summers in Beijing truly are a sight to behold.
The first time I was caught unaware by just how capricious the weather is occurred in the very first week of our stay in Beijing. A group of us went to the lively Wudaokou for hot pot, and as we exited the building after our steaming dinner of delicious meats and vegetables, it was to our surprise that we were pleasantly greeted with gusts of cool wind. We all commented on how, finally, the weather was taking a change for the better, and so we indulged in the coolness of the air by bantering as we leisurely strolled back to Zhongguanyuan.
Suddenly, we felt heavy raindrops on our checks as a flash of light radiated the skies. Our optimism about the weather soon made a detour, as we hesitantly laughed and dismissed the possibility that it would rain. Raindrops gradually began to pelt us, and our stride quickened into a jog, and later a sprint. We took refuge under a bridge during what seemed like the worst of the monsoon, but the rain did not let up.
The streets began to flood, and we watched as our hopes of escaping the livid storm disappeared as quickly as the rain had come. Still 10 minutes away from our dorms, we ran, half crying and half laughing, as our sneakers filled with muddy water. We had one umbrella among the five of us, but there was no use in even using it since the winds were so strong. I still remember the security officer stifling his laughter as I walked into my dorm, looking as if I had taken a shower fully-clothed.
You would have thought that I learned from my mistake, but just last week, I found myself caught in another storm almost at the caliber as the first. A friend and I had grabbed dinner on campus, and I, just as foolish as I was the first time, commented on the cool breeze as we stepped outside of the building. Dense clouds materialized in the skies and lightning struck, and we hastened our pace. Then, just as before, heavy raindrops slammed at us as we took refuge in a nearby building. My friend and I lamented about our luck, as we had left with no umbrella. We stood stranded under the refuge of the building as we waited for the rain to stop. When the rapping of the rain sounded slightly sedated, we bolted towards the building where we usually had class and pleaded the security officers to borrow a couple of the broken umbrellas that students had left behind. With our umbrellas flapping against the heavy wind, we trudged through the streets that had flooded once more, and finally rejoiced in the sanctuary of our dorms. Facing this ordeal was no one’s fault but my own. It’s as the saying goes: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Let’s hope I won’t be fooled a third time.