Again I’d just like to apologise that it has been nearly a week since my last post! Work and everything has been super busy and manic, I’ve barely had a second to myself let alone go on the computer and construct a good post! But here is one now, and I promise that from next Monday once everything gets a bit settled in my diary there shall be posts nearly everyday covering a diverse range of topics. I spent a month living in the slums in Gujarat, India last December (with lions!) and have recently been going over my diary/ethnographies/research, so shall definitely tell you about that at some point soon too.
So the topic of this post comes as no surprise to any of you that live in London or the UK. Over the past few days we have experienced the most temperamental weather ever. Sunny and hot one moment, then soaked the next second as a bucket of rain comes out of nowhere. Unlike many other cultures around the world such as the Tarahumara of Mexico, we do not have a rain dance (“rutuburi”) and rain does not have such a significance to our lives – our fertility doesn’t change depending on the rain patterns (well that’s what I think) and we are unlikely to go immediately hungry if there is a serious lack of rain. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have a massive cultural significance and I propose that it actually may be one of the cores of British culture, perhaps pinnacle to how our society functions.
Stereotypically, London is known for its rain (maybe this huge amount of rain is to show those coming for the Olympics that they are indeed in London). But unlike how many people suggest that miserable weather = miserable emotions and attitudes, it does not mean that Londoners are miserable. Yes we might get a bit grumpy if we are caught out in the rain without any waterproofs/umbrellas, but whether you are a kid or not there is something wholly satisfying about jumping in a puddle of water with wellies on. And anyway, having rain just makes you appreciate the Sun (on those rare occasions when it comes out) even more. But what draws me to rain from an anthropological perspective is the way that it changes people’s interactions and forces social interaction with arguably a boost in the economy (well in coffee shops anyway). Maybe this applies just to the people around me, but I’ve noticed that when there is rain, there are a lot more conversations, usually about the weather (will it clear up, will there be floods etc) and a lot more interaction between random strangers, usually under a bus or shop shelter. I think it also boosts creativity – when “stuck” inside, your thoughts will stay focused but be outside of the box rather than thinking more about the lovely weather outside and how you could be having picnics rather than working.
Rain is also healthy, stress free (to an extent) and a time generator. All those things that I have put off like sorting out cupboards are all the more liberating and motivating when its pouring down with rain outside. There’s also nothing like sitting down to watch a film with popcorn, a duvet and a cuppa when you know that actually there is nothing better to do/no regrets about wasting the glorious weather. As a teenager at university, rain does not bring procrastination, but bonding with flatmates over boardgames and a chance to bake some experimental cakes.
Respect to rain. Without it we would not have quite so beautiful parks, gardens and countryside and without it we would not have a sense of unity with all those others sharing those drips, clichéd chats about the weather and successful coffee shops and cinemas. If you are British, you know that whilst you are not liking this April weather in July when it is meant to be “Summer”, you are secretly proud of, appreciative and love what it stands for.