The sky has often been described as leaden, yet there is something more leaden about the way rain falls in the tropics – it seems to live out the lie that heavier things fall faster. When the pressure drops in the mid afternoon and the rain switches on, it is as though the atmosphere has liquefied and entered a state of collapse. Tropical downpours have a lush gratuitousness about them, a gentle ferocity, like being patted on the head by a giant uncle. For the most part, the rain is benevolent – a source of life and refreshment, fresh air and clean water, a time of abundance – yet all too often the weather is dreadfully heavy-handed.
This shot was taken in Bangkok, from a hotel window, during the regulation afternoon downpour. After the restless preamble of electric air, smothering oppression and a tell-tale cool gust, down it came, nozzle opened full, spilling most of its guts in the first five minutes. I’ve written elsewhere what a fan of rain I am – a fan of all weather, really – and watching these tropical downpours was a special treat.
The wall of drops adds a sketchiness to the shapes huddled behind it, as though the city were rendered in charcoal. This picture reminds me of such a sketch, but with a palpable sense of dampness – the ubiquitous moist fecundity of the tropics.