Two nights ago I decided to attend a Jewish dinner put on by one of my Jewish teaching buddies. There was a catch, however (isn't there always?). The dinner was on a night when a storm was supposed to be coming in. Not just any old storm either, but the first major Typhoon of the season. That night the center of the storm was supposed to land right on top of the city. Wind and rain throughout the day was already quite scary at the time, but me being new to coastal storms, I had no idea what I was about to get into.
Nonetheless, I simply couldn't pass up a Jewish dinner (and I didn't have anything else to do anyway), so I found my umbrella and braved the storm with the best of them (and all their umbrellas). Fortune was on my side, at least in the beginning. The bus came immediately upon my walking up to the bus stop, ran through mostly green lights on the way to the subway, where once again the subway train pulled up just as I was walking to the deck. I got on and was whisked away to the far side of town (Nanshan district). After that it was another quick bus ride to the outskirts of Bao'an District.
This is where things started to get "questionable". Perhaps my "fortune" was destiny skipping all the boring parts and ensuring I couldn't turn back before the "fun" began.
At first I was a bit confused as to whether I should turn left or right after getting off the bus. The directions weren't very specific, as either way had a walkway and similar markers as indicated on the map I drew out. I decided to go left (which was of course the wrong way). After the rain started to come down in heavier and heavier sheets, I called my friend to identify my location. Fortunately, it turned out that I somehow managed to make a semi-circle, so I wasn't that lost after all! Unfortunately, several mean and nasty puddles (more like lakes) of water had formed just about everywhere throughout the area at this point.
This is where things went from "questionable" to "ugly".
The shoes I was wearing where cheap $10 shoes that I had bought at a place called "Dongmen". This is seriously the last time I ever buy anything from there. You bargain for the cheapest price because everyone is selling the same stuff, and it's all crap that deserves the lowest price one is able to sell it for (serves me right, I suppose). As soon as I stepped through one puddle my shoes were completely saturated. It would explain why my feet were near the frost bite stage when I had traveled to Japan... the shoe's insulation simply sucks.
I arrived at my destination a short while later, soaked, and settled down to wait for the others in our group to arrive. Due to the whether there ended up only being about eight of us (which was good because any more would have been too crowded anyway).
Fast forwarding a bit, I have to say the meal was quite enjoyable. Not only did we have Jewish style foods, but we went through a complete ritual before and after the meal. I actually learned a few things about the Jews, the bible, and our civilization's history in general. Who can usually say that when they sit down at the dinner table? I walked away with a smile on my face, and a soar on my right foot.
This is where things went from "ugly" to "disastrous", fast.
Upon leaving the restaurant we were greeted with rain that came at us sideways, extremely heavy winds that turned our umbrellas inside-out, and deeper puddles of water that converged to form one massive lake down every street we attempted to cross. Finding a bus was next to impossible as the highways were also flooded. We observed one such apocalyptic scenario as we took an overpass over the main highway. Cars were stalled haphazardly along the guard rails with water up to their windshields.
Eventually we discovered a secret little alcove where nearby stores weren't flooded, and waited impatiently for a taxi (or anyone or anything that could get us home). After about an hour a taxi showed up and bargained (at double the price) to take five of us (I had to jam down by everyone's feet due to the security checkpoints and the four-person taxi limit) to our homes. After another hour I arrived at my home, soaked to the bone, with destroyed shoes, and an umbrella that now made an excellent tester for how deep the pools of water were along the roadside.
I still need to pay my share for that taxi ride too...