Local Heart, Global Soul

October 23, 2012

Louver Windows and the Connection to Ditches…

Filed under: LIFE,MALAYSIA,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is probably another post where you think I’m bonkers. (Actually I’m sometimes surprised you don’t think that of all of my posts LOL).

My parents lived for a while in the Solomon Islands and when I first went to visit them I was surprised to see what appeared to be a dry moat around their house, complete with a small bridge by the front door.

It looked  like a rather lethal affair too,  and uncovered open pit about one meter deep and about half a meter wide and with the addition of a little barbed wire might have been passed off as a miniature  World War One trench.

Then I noticed something funny with their roof… there was a deep overhang on the roof, so the eaves were very pronounced.  My Mother laughed… “You’ll  ‘get it” later” she said, and Yes, as soon as it rained I surely did.

Tropical rain doesn’t rain cats and dogs, it rains swimming pools and this not-so-little moat was their overflow drain for rain water. And over-flow it did… until I saw it fill and over flow within fifteen minutes or so,  I never could have imagined that so much water could pour out of the sky and flood the earth at once.

My parents  had a rainwater tank for their water supply, it was massive: big enough that my Father could climb inside to scrub the inside walls several times a year, and one day just after he’s scrubbed it,  it started to rain very heavily so he put the diversion pipe on, (from the roof to the tank) filled it completely during the downpour, then took the diversion pipe away, totally emptied the tank  and then with the tank now rinsed but the pipe back and filled it completely again from the water coming off the roof… all  in the same downpour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

He said he got soaked to the skin doing it, but  that wasn’t a bother because it was still roughly 36 C (98.6 F) anyway.

On the long side of the house that usually caught the small breezes they installed a row of floor to ceiling louver windows .

These ran for some meters along the hallway and with insect netting on the outside, gave a good airflow in the house in the typically hot and humid climate.

You could close one or two meters of louver windows at a time by pulling down on long handles at various  points along the hallway and I discovered just how heavy tropical rain can be one day when the skies opened and we were all outside.

I was fastest to sprint inside and try and get all the windows closed… but the driving rain was almost horizontal and so much rain was coming in whilst I was trying to close them that in spite of my haste I was standing in ankle deep puddles of flood water on the floor.

In the kitchen more windows were open and the entire kitchen floor was flooded and the stove top was full of water. There was actually so much water on the stove that the elements were drowning in water and we didn’t dare use them until the electrics dried out for fear of electrocuting ourselves.

It’s therefore with some nostalgia that I spy large rainwater ditches by the side of the road in Malaysia, memories of the Solomons come back in an instant and I’m reminded that whilst we are enjoying a lovely sunny day today, it’s green and lush around here for a very good reason.

I suppose that during a decent cloudburst here or a tropic storm that there must be small rivers of water flowing in these drains.  We didn’t see it today, but in my minds eye I’m transported back to the day when I was standing up to my ankles in water inside my parents hallway in floods caused by a tropical rainstorm.

Yes, I am bonkers.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


  1. I don’t think you’re bonkers at all.

    Fantastic tale. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Comment by sarsm — October 23, 2012 @ 6:08 am | Reply

    • Sarsm / Sara
      I’ll never be able to look at another Louvre window as long as I live without the memory of this coming flashing back. It’s often the small disasters like this that you end up laughing about your whole life too. In the end it all mopped up and we dried out too so no harm was done but the irony of standing up to your ankles in water whilst inside a house on stilts on a hill was funny.

      Comment by kiwidutch — October 31, 2012 @ 11:55 pm | Reply

  2. Funny how things trigger memories, but I’m thinking standing in water in your own home wouldn’t be something you’d forget. The same happened to me when I was young, only the water was caused by a hurricane.

    Comment by lulu — October 23, 2012 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

    • Lulu,
      You’d have a hard time forgetting a hurricane I’d imagine!
      Luckily my experience was more tame than a hurricane, it was the first time I’d seen almost horizontal rain though…and at least since the house was on stilts there was no mud. It really was raining “swimming pools” though, literally a wall of water, it was quite an education!!!

      Comment by kiwidutch — October 31, 2012 @ 11:50 pm | Reply

  3. That’s one of those great memories that seems disastrous at the time, but that you just have to laugh at years later!

    We have similar water ditches here; some years they flow like miniature rapids. We once had a visitor ask if the “freshwater spring” along our property ran all year long. Took us a while to realize he was referring to the ditch!

    Comment by Luddy's Lens — October 24, 2012 @ 10:35 pm | Reply

    • That’s funny!!! was he embarrassed by his mistake? (it’s the kind of thing I’d say too). I’ve seen tropical rain turn a riverbed from a trickle to a torrent that lapped the base of the bridge we had to cross.. in two hours! the water was so scarily high we crossed on foot while the local driver took the car across (the bridge had loose boards and no sides and they were scared the car would skid off into the swollen river)Scary stuff.

      Comment by kiwidutch — October 31, 2012 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

      • Actually, he seemed to take his little mistake in stride — sort of “hm, interesting” (This same fella asked if it’s safe to eat the “black oysters” that his kids were finding around the shoreline. We had to tell him these were actually mussels, and, no, you probably don’t want to eat them raw. He’s one of those relatives about whom everyone in the family has a story to tell.)

        Jeez, I’ve seen some rain up here, but nothing like the tropical rains you describe. They sound frightening.

        Comment by Luddy's Lens — November 1, 2012 @ 1:31 am | Reply

        • Haha, every family needs a member like this for the sheer entertainment value! (I have to confess that on one or two occasions when I was younger I’ve been “that” family member myself LOL) Now Little Mr is doing an expert job of it but he’s only seven years of age so he applies kid logic to many things and using his method 1+1 never ends up being 2.
          Still, his guilelessness and gullibility is often refreshing and totally funny.
          Tropical cloudbursts are a wonder to behold, nothing in temperate climates even comes close IMHO… but on the upside at least when we got wet in the tropics we never got cold as the temps were over 34C !!!

          Comment by kiwidutch — November 1, 2012 @ 6:38 am | Reply

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