In Arabic, the word for rain and the word for winter are almost the same. One brings the other.
My Filipino cleaner, who sleeps better when it rains, likes to give me a weekly weather forecast. Even though I’m sure she gets her information from the TV like everyone else, I somehow always believe her more, as though she feels it in her bones. She has become my weather oracle.
Last Monday, when it was still unseasonably mild, she told me
Tomorrow it will rain. For 3 days.
I passed her prediction on to my taxi driver later in the day when we were discussing the warm weather and lack of water. Inshallah he said, God willing.
It turned out that he was willing and the cleaner was right. The next day the rain came and according to another taxi driver, and the even-crazier-than-normal traffic, we were now officially in Winter.
According to the concierge’s wife, Winter was actually here quite a while ago. I know because one morning on my way out of the building she pointed at my daughter’s outfit (cosy cord dungarees and cardigan) and said something that I think included the word rain and I imagined must be a reprimand as I am always being told that my daughter must be too hot or too cold. But when the neighbour translated I found out she was saying:
It’s winter now and she is wearing warm clothes.
So it’s a good thing…? I double check I’m not being told off.
Meaning, after a year of dressing my baby, I had finally got it right (by Middle Eastern standards that is- most of my expat friends’ babies were still in short sleeves, as after all the weather was still warmer than an English summer at that point!)