Posted by: chandnidhingra | March 21, 2014


There is nothing closer to real, live, better-than-Harry-Potter magic, than when it rains in Phnom Penh in the middle of the hot season.

After days of relentless heat and humidity, the moment you wake up in the morning to darkness, instead of the classic I’m-already-too-hot sunlight streaming into the apartment, you know that today will be different. You peak through the curtains, just to make sure it’s not just your eyes still adjusting to the morning, then gleefully draw them open in one grand sweep to reveal the sheet of grey, looming clouds spreading across the sky. Though it’s not yet raining, the air is tingling in anticipation. The sounds of the normally constantly chaotic city are split into two; an expectant lull which is slower than usual, filled with school children squealing in excitement, and street vendors preparing to find shelter without hindering their sales for the day; and on the other hand, a frantic rush on the roads to reach one’s destination before the heavens open up. Somehow, the two completely contrasting streams of sound can be heard distinctly, like two separate instruments playing different melodies in a duet, yet combined, they created a delightfully curious tune.

All of the anticipation can mount only to a certain point, because when the skies finally open up, it is completely unexpected. In a split second, the breeze subsides and the rain thunders down as if it has already been raining for hours. The streets empty, the sounds of traffic and the calls of local coconut sellers are drowned out by the steady clatter of the rain. If you are anything like me, you step outside, hands out-stretched and face turned skyward and savour every droplet that falls to your skin and sends tingles through you. The smile that is already crinkling across your face widens and you try to think of every excuse (not that you need one) to stay outside.

Suddenly, it subsides, but from the ominous clouds still blanketing the sky, you know that your time is limited. You jump on your bicycle and take to the roads, joining a rainbow of people in colourful ponchos racing against the sky-clock. After an intense battle against the crowds, you finally reach the safety of the courtyard at work and join the gathering of people under the canopy of mango trees… just in time.

This time, the rain checks into Hotel Phnom Penh; it’s here to stay. Everyone around you stands in silence and smiles contentedly, watching the city transform. Green plants and colourful flowers glisten with crystals of water, and a playful, cool, refreshing breeze weaves its way through the calm. In that moment, there are no troubles or tribulations, no heartaches or head-aches, and no maladies or memories greater than the calm that rushes over you with each wave of damp coolness. One by one, people reluctantly filter inside, back to their desks and the daily work routine.

But if you’re anything like me, you bring your laptop downstairs. Sit outside under cover, and work with the sound, sight, smell, taste and feel of the rain…And write about it.


(I know I haven’t written in a while, and I will post about my work soon, but I decided to post this piece today because this internship for me hasn’t just been about my internship and my work; it has been an incredible journey growing, adapting and experiencing life in Phnom Penh, and I have to say, rain in Phnom Penh, is an experience worth sharing.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: