Frankenstein Weather

by Naila Sheikh


For the past week, the weather out here in Houston has been a series of thunderstorms, heavy unpredictable rain showers with overnight rain resulting in heavy flooding throughout the city. Luckily we were saved of this headache and spared of the extreme difficulties in the northern part of town - almost as if, the flooding was happening somewhere far, but upon turning on the TV, it was only less than 50 miles away. 

 

People were stranded in their cars and sadly, a few fatalities occurred. The loss in such circumstances whereby home is only a few miles away, makes one think of how powerful water streams actually are. They swiftly take away entire cars and the ability to think promptly as we underestimate flooded areas. The government should really improve its infrastructure and perhaps learn a thing or two from the Dutch who built their country on the basis of water, building solid levees to protect neighborhoods.

 

In the suburban city of Purmerend in Holland, where I used to live, the levee was just a block away from our house, but it was in the disguise of a long stretch of green hills with a small road to ride bikes on. That particular route over the levee, would take me from a short cut to my house, so I always opted to ride my bike uphill against the sharp, cold winds all the way up to the green hills. Not an easy thing to do, I must say. In hail, in rain, in snow: the attempt was always made to take the "dijk", the levee's route. Despite wearing multiple sweaters, a thick jacket, gloves and a warm shawl, the freezing cold, sharp pangs of the wind would still slap you in the face and all you'd want is to get to your warm abode and never get out for the day.

The beauty of Holland and their meticulous civil engineering in land and city development, truly makes me more appreciative of my wonderful years spent there. I get nostalgic thinking about the days bicycling to school or to the grocery store "winkelcentrum" - see image below:

                            Winkelcentrum Meerland in Purmerend. Beautiful architecture.         

                            Winkelcentrum Meerland in Purmerend. Beautiful architecture.

      

 

People on foot and people on the bike; Holland's active lifestyle. Spacious biking and pedestrian paths are made to accommodate everyone. We would reach this shopping center while biking through a park and crossing over this bridge. During summer months, these water bayou's would be filled with kids enjoying their rubber boats, paddling away. That was so much fun! And in the winter, you'd see everyone skating on ice. 

People on foot and people on the bike; Holland's active lifestyle. Spacious biking and pedestrian paths are made to accommodate everyone. We would reach this shopping center while biking through a park and crossing over this bridge. During summer months, these water bayou's would be filled with kids enjoying their rubber boats, paddling away. That was so much fun! And in the winter, you'd see everyone skating on ice. 

As you can see from the images, water is essential to every Dutch's life. You can't escape water canals/bayous in Holland as well as water falling from the skies. It would rain most of the time during the year or the weather was always cloudy with regular sunshine during the scarce months of July and August. Rain would continue for several days without breaks and with a levee right nearby our house, I don't recall being fearful of flooding or drowning (by the way: knowing how to swim is mandatory in Holland - all kids get their swim diploma through school). 

 

My mind still can't process how bad the drainage system is of Texas and how lives are lost every single time a major storm is to occur. During times like these, when I'm praying for everyone to stay safe on the roads, I can't help but think of our memorable days in Holland and the quality of life living in Europe as compared to the U.S. Sometimes I am wishful where I'd want to take my kids there and live that lifestyle so that they can taste my childhood, just a little bit and gain this priceless experience of simple, yet active Dutch living.

 

Some images of our neighborhood in moederteresa straat:

moeder1.jpg

Will surely return to you, one day.