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Friday, 21 September 2012

'MONSOON' IN NORTHERN ALBANIA, MAY 1984




  
We boarded our coach the next morning, and drove out of Shkodër to visit the multi-arched Turkish bridge at Mesi. Having admired that briefly, we returned to the centre of Shkodër, and followed another road that radiated from its centre until we reached a factory on its outskirts. After waiting for a heavy iron gate on rollers to be opened, we drove inside the compound containing what we were told was a copper wire factory. I was looking forward to visiting this establishment. However, before we had all disembarked, the heavens opened, and soon there were several inches of water on the poorly drained ground. We were told to get back into the bus and that our factory visit was to be aborted. It took a while to leave the compound because the sliding gate had somehow become jammed in its closed position by the rain waters.

The centre of Shkodër, through which we had to return, was flooded. People were splashing through the inundation, some with umbrellas, many without. I was not to see such a scene again for more than 10 years, when I began visiting India, sometimes during the Monsoon season.

Some years after my return from Albania, I purchased a copy of “Albania: the Foundling State of Europe” by Wadham Peacock, who was private secretary to the British Consul General in Shkodër. It was published in 1914 - one year after Albania became an independent nation. Peacock recorded that in his day Shkodër was subject to flash floods frequently. So, what we experienced in 1984 was nothing new. 

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