Just before summer last year, I pottered about the streets—fresh out of a shower with nothing more than a light-scented talcum powder mildly-layering my brown surface. Temperatures didn’t exceed 42 degrees Celsius, and the talc was more than enough to prevent me from turning into a body of walking stink.How to spring in Australia. Just before summer last year, I pottered about the streets—fresh out of a shower with nothing more than a light-scented talcum powder mildly-layering my brown surface. Temperatures didn’t exceed 42 degrees Celsius, and the talc was more than enough to prevent me from turning into a body of walking stink.
I was in Chennai, a south Indian city of over 6 million people.
This time, I’m in Canberra. It’s springtime, and people smile at the sun, women gliding about in beautiful spring skirts, men waddling in khaki shorts trying to balance two beers in one hand, and more people in singlets of every colour and pattern. I’ve seen all kinds of ankles, knees, and arms. Temperature can reach up to 25 degrees now, and 42 degrees in summer.
I don’t have talcum powder anymore.
I have sunscreen.
Petroleum jelly, because I’m still recovering from winter dryness.
I have lip balm.
And I’m nursing chapped, cracked, and chipped skin.
Welcome to Australia—the sun loves us so much that it ripped the ozone, earth’s face mask, away so it can kiss us more fully, purely, with love as mother showers upon her 18-month baby, except more harshly.
18 degrees, an idealistic dream in Chennai, burns in Canberra.
The sun has a way to hurt you, and you have a way to deal with it. What else are conglomerates for? They churn out cream after cream, all-purpose ones for efficiency and portability, and more specialised, individually focussed line of products for a more complete skin care. Variantly priced to suit your comfort.
And yet, it’s not just about lining rows and rows of supermarket shelves with liquids and creams people may or may not want. It’s not the unrestrained dance of the capitalist banshee, wasteful.
Australia has one of the world’s highest skin cancer rates. Although tanning has been huge crazy (why, I’ll never understand), our unnatural behaviour has led to natural exposure to excessive UV rays, and that keeps this country a hot bed.
No one goes out without synthetic protection hugging their skins. The more clothes you shed to cope with the rising heat, the more you need to layer up on creams.
I’m glad I got my transition glasses just in time—my eyelids would fry otherwise.
And that, my friends, is how you spring in Australia. Wonderful time for picnics and lounging on the grass with a book—just as long as you’ve got your layers on.