'Oh well, it's raining again'.
It's the kind of comment that comes naturally to a Brit. According to the author of 'Watching the English', commenting on the weather is a way the British have contrived to be able to speak to complete strangers without running the risk of being considered mentally ill. Thus one can safely engage almost anyone in conversation whilst waiting for a bus, for example, simply be commenting on the state of the sky above.
This doesn't always work in foreign climes. For one thing Mediterranean peoples seem to be a little more relaxed than Brits and don't necessarily need such techniques. When I find I myself defaulting to this social game here complete strangers seem to think that this poor foreigner, for some bizarre reason, actually does want to talk to them about the weather, more often than not they are happy to humour me.
In fact the conversation can very quickly get fairly theological. Living in places where there are frequent water shortages in the summer, heavy rain is viewed as a blessing from God. As a result of this I can often find myself the object of a well meaning homily on why we should actually be grateful for the rain as it is a blessing from the hand of God. I do need reminding but that was more than I was bargaining for, I usually dutifully concede that, yes, indeed we should be thankful.
Despite that I can at times feel a little cheated. I don't like rain and I've appreciated over the years living in places where it doesn't rain much, so I can't help but feel slightly aggrieved when a city that considers itself as situated in the Middle East has more annual rain than London. I should add that Istanbul does get most of it's rain in the winter unlike London where the rainfall seems to be every other day all year round. There are times when I can almost feel myself saying that I want my money back!
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis depicts Purgatory or Hell as a bus stop in a dull, grey, rainy, urban setting. I wonder if he'd visitied Istanbul in rush hour on a rainy January evening.
The picture above is Istanbul on a good day......