Mar 03, 2014

    Grass here as dried up as the Red Devils

    THE last time this country saw some serious rain, Justin Bieber hadn't been arrested, Manchester United were still considered a semi-decent football team and Frozen was showing in cinemas.

    OK, Frozen is still showing.

    Is there anyone left in the country who hasn't seen the snow queen movie?

    Or are we returning to the cinema with our kids just to say: "You see. Wet stuff did once fall from the sky. Our faces didn't always melt off our heads whenever we glanced up at the sun."

    Climate change is getting a tad too serious for my liking. There are babies in Singapore who have never seen rain before.

    Nevertheless, as climate change tightens its grip on the planet, the Brits have been up to their waists in floodwater, Americans are buried in snow and Singaporeans haven't been this dry since the tax on alcohol went up 25 per cent.

    At this juncture, I feel obliged to address the unfortunate timing of the tax hike in the recent Budget.

    Singaporeans are staggering around with their tongues hanging out and the price of all liquor goes up. Talk about kicking a parched nation when it's down.

    Americans are trying to dig their way out of their snowed-in streets, but President Barack Obama didn't suddenly increase the tax on shovels.

    All right, that's a flippant comparison.

    Singapore has plenty of water to get by - mega litres of liquid gold - we're practically swimming in the stuff.

    We must be. There can't be any other nation that wastes quite as much water as we do during the longest dry spell since records began.

    Newater is being pumped into the reservoirs to maintain water levels, which is just as well because we do love to wash concrete in Singapore.

    You've seen the housing estates. The grass along roads and street corners is long gone, replaced by ugly, dusty brown patches.

    Trees are wilting. Flowerbeds are gasping.

    But we're going to keep our concrete shiny if it's the last thing we do.

    Just how clean does a concrete path have to be? We're not cats. We don't eat our dinner off it.

    On three separate occasions last week, at three different locations, I've seen heavily perspiring foreign workers melting in the midday sun as they carry out orders to jet-spray concrete paths that were not particularly dirty to begin with.

    PUB has asked Singaporeans to practise sensible water habits during the drought and avoid unnecessary consumption.

    We have to. We've got all that concrete to wash.

    The sterling work of the PUB and its 3P programme, encouraging the "people, public and private" sectors to take ownership of our water resources, is the envy of other countries, but it takes two hands to clap.

    And one of them is going nuts with the jet hose.

    Serious rain is not forecast for Singapore until the middle of this month. So maybe we accept that roads, paths and carparks can be a little less than gleaming for the time being.

    I think we'll survive.

    Should I find myself dying of dehydration, I'm pretty sure I won't grab my wife and croak: "Before I leave this world, my darling, I just have to know... Was the concrete path outside our apartment clean?"