Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Of Fog & Bad Weather

I remember back in Trinidad, on our drives into the “high” mountains on the way to Maracas beach, that we would be so amazed by the “fog”. Technically, it was not fog, but low hanging clouds around the mountains’ highest points, but for us, it was the closest thing that we could get to fog, and it was amazing. In Trinidad there’s no such thing as fog, since it never gets cold enough for the condensation to occur [of course there may have been one of two freak occurrences where it appeared].

Looking out of my window at 8:00 am this morning, the sun hadn’t risen, it was still dark [now being the dark period of winter], and there was the mysterious and eerie but fascinating fog engulfing all that was outside; the scanty and naked leafless trees almost seemed shivering.

I once met a Mexican guy in Brussels, who shared the same fascination for this odd weather as I did, and he explained: that Europeans don’t have an appreciation for it, since they are accustomed to it, however for tourists [for lack of a better word] like ourselves, or at least people who have grown up devoid of exposure to these natural but peculiar anomalies, the occurrence is almost magical. I disagree with him on the specificity of “European”; I would say anyone can lose appreciation for anything if exposed to it for an extended period of time. So the beach, which will be a tropical paradise to most Europeans, may seem mundane to me since I see it all the time and it’s not considered as a “luxury”, but as an “amenity”.

For instance, a simple thing as snow-fall and the soft and powerful glow given by the reflection of moonlight amazes and perplexes most international students [like myself]. I remember once in "management of knowledge and innovation" class, it began to snow heavily outside, all the Dutch students were paying attention and taking notes, while all the internationals were deeply entranced by the beauty and peculiarity of the snow. A person familiar with snow just hates it and wants it to go away, while we go running about nakedly and rolling in it [at -30 degrees Celsius].

It’s like the rain in London, that everyone needs to experience to bask in the true spirit of the city, while Londoners most often complain that London is wet always. If anyone who has seen films about London goes there, I’m pretty sure they would want to see the city in the way it was depicted: wet!

It’s like my visit to Bruges involved horridly freezing weather, however it was my first time to see hail, balls of ice hard as rock falling heavily, it was unregrettable. It’s like my visit to Finland where it was the first time I saw and felt -30 degrees Celsius and a frozen sea. It’s like the sheep here in The Netherlands: I’ve never seen in real life a sheep as depicted on TV before, with the fluffy wool coat, since the sheep in Trinidad are adapted to [in fact: bred for] the hot climate and actually have hair instead of wool. So, even the fields of boring sheep interests me here, although I’m a very “nature-exposed” person.

It’s just something I’ve never seen before in my life. Europe to me and some other people, who perhaps grew up closer to the equator, holds certain cliché, specific and special images: the fog over the canals, cobblestone streets with a dark, historic, and semi-romantic semi-mysterious feeling to it. It's the same way that Europeans have a clichéd view of the Caribbean: palm trees [which are found mostly only on the coastlines], white sand, dried coconut cups [which we never use, we drink from green/yellow coconuts], and pineapples [which we don't eat that often]. So next time you see me taking a picture of something strange, don’t just think of me a tourist and laugh; because when you come to my place the tables will be turned when you take out your camera to ‘capture the beach’.

The images in this post are not mine, please see below for the sources [in order of appearance in this post]:

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