The worst thunderstorms of this year hit today, waking me at 7am with bellowing thunder and flashes of light. The rain reached epic proportions, pounding my window panes and flooding Shanghai's unsuspecting streets.
As I drifted in and out of sleep, I fervently hoped that no freak storm could last 3 hours, as I had scheduled today that most nerve wraking thing: an interview, in Chinese, with one of those arty types that rarely make sense.
By 11am I was walking through the ongoing rain, ankle deep in flood waters that smelled suspiciously of sewege (and ruining my favourite yellow heels) to meet the Famous Chinese Orchestra Conductor. Having left my dictating machine in the office last week, and failing miserably to get a taxi this morning, I arrived soaked to the rehearsal hall of the Shanghai Opera House.
There I found the conductor in full flow, conducting a hundred musicians and singers, and nowhere near finished. An hour later the rehearsal ended (and I had dried). As I rushed up to catch his attention the conductor told me the hour long interview I had prepared had to be squeezed in to 15 minutes before he left for another meeting.
Such is the glamorous life of a journalist.
Before I became one I imagined it was like mingling with the stars, picking the brains of the sucessful, being invited to media parties, and attending press conferences to a backdrop of cameras flashing.
The strange truth is all the above is true, but there's a cloud to every silver lining.
It was at a media party that I realised journalists occupied the bottom rung of the glamour ladder. Maybe it was when russian models with no brain cells flounced passed us with a breezy, "we don't need tickets, we're models". Or when I saw drunk, rich people ignoring us and behaving badly, making passes at each other's wives and propositioning above mentioned models with promises of private helicopters.
I realised we are perennially the fly on the wall, the observer of those who have done things with their lives, those who have made it. Like being a narrator in a play, you never figure in the plot.
But then as this morning's whirlwind interview ended (I had managed to squeeze another 4 minutes out of him), I was reminded of why I love this job regardless.
Despite his success my interviewee was nice and interesting and had things to say. He loved music, he was passionate and he was living his dreams. He told me about struggling to earn a living at music school, sleeping in metro stations in the winter and working at restaurants. He told me about success, and how, if you prepare for it, luck and fate will surely come.
As I had lunch in a nearby dim sum place, with the rain still going strong, and jotting down interview notes, I thought I was really damn lucky. I come and go as I please, and I write what I want to write. Well, not exactly if you count censorship, but I mean, I'm free to make sense of the chaos of life in words. And I'm free to give my take on it's meaning.
That's what makes it so great, not the glamour, but the nature of what you do day to day. That's what makes worthwile the exhausting days out running around town in torrential rains or blistering heat.
Back at the office it's another day of not knowing what to expect, and who I'm going to meet.