If it ain't one thing...
...it's another. SE Asia's at the start of its "winter" monsoon season (properly known as the "northeastern monsoon," because the winds bringing in the rain blow to the northeast). Unlike the so-called "monsoon" season in the American west, with its duststorms and thunderstorms, the monsoon in Singapore is the real deal. A week ago Tuesday, Singapore had the third highest rainfall in the past 75 years for a 24-hour period. (We got more rain in that one day than we did all of last December.) That rain caused minor flooding and a couple of mud slides in S'pore, but significant flooding in southern peninsular Malaysia (primarily from the state of Melaka on down through Johor). There's also been some very heavy flooding on the Indonesian island of Sumatra (to our west), with over 100 dead and hundreds of thousands evacuated. (Sumatra, if you'll recall, was the island devestated by the tsunami two years ago.) Back here in S'pore, we received another all-day drencher this past Tuesday, although conditions weren't quite as bad as last week. (Although... JD at the doctor's clinic Tuesday night, getting weighed: Doctor: "You've gained 4kg (about 9 lbs) in the past month." Me: "My pants are soaked from the rain.")
Then there was the earthquake just south of Taiwan late Tuesday night. This quake damaged two underwater cables on the Pacific Ocean floor, making internet traffic in eastern Asia (from Japan to Australia) *very* sporadic yesterday and today. I've been very lucky to visit what websites I can. Also, two TV channels were knocked off the air yesterday, although one I don't receive and the other (the Hallmark Channel) I rarely watch. Even now (Thursday morning, as I write this), connecting to some websites (especially American websites) is very much hit-and-miss. Visiting websites that are westward (toward Europe) is somewhat easier. So if you've had trouble visiting my blog recently (and traffic was down by about half yesterday and today), that's the reason why. (Update: Eleven hours after I wrote this, I'm now finally logged into Blogger to post this; I wasn't able to log in all day long.)
Updates: Alhamdulillah, internet access finally started improving significantly on the third day after the earthquake (Friday). Also, the weather service here in S'pore has said that this December is the wettest since 1869, when meteoroligical measurements began here. As of the 28th, 765.9 mm (3.01") of rain has fallen. Still, we haven't yet matched the wettest month ever. That was January 1893, with a total of 818.6 mm (3.22"). However, there's still 31.5 hours left in the month. ;)
While there aren't that many people who beg for money here in S'pore, I was struck by a dilemma last night at one of the bus/MRT interchanges. In a very short distance there were four people asking for money. Whom might I give some money to? The young mother with the crying baby? The blind man who has a slight hunchback selling tissues? (He's a daily fixture at this particular interchange.) The busker singing and playing the guitar? (Another daily fixture.) Or a young man who has a severe disability with his legs? (Imagine sitting flat on the ground with your legs out in front of you; now, instead of your calves and feet being straight ahead, they're turned out, left and right, away from each other at 90 degree angles to his thighs. That's how this poor guy was sitting.)
Born of Fire
In the past two months, I've been reading The Economist somewhat consistently. In this week's (Dec. 23rd) edition, there's an interesting two-page article on - of all things - Jinn! Actually, what I've noticed in these past few weeks is that The Economist regularly discusses various Islamic issues and current events involving Islam and/or Muslims. (The average issue will have anywhere between one to seven articles on these topics; this week's issue has at least three articles). And while The Economist's editorial board doesn't always get it right regarding Islam, they're much more often "right" than "wrong." (For example, regarding the recent UK controversy regarding the niqab in the UK, The Economist argued against a ban.) The article about Jinn is located here, although I'm going to reprint it in my next post, insha'allah.
BTW, my ustaz has told some rather interesting stories about women possessed by jinn and a few of the exorcisms he's performed. Repeat after me: "Ah 'udhu billahi min-ash-shaitan-ir-rajim."