Of daylight savings

A lot of my friends overseas whine at having to rewind their clocks twice a year. Living in a country where daylight savings wasn’t a thing, I tried my best to sympathise with them and nod along as they apologised for missing meetings, and ranted about how the change was disrupting their lives.

Now though, I live in a country that does have an official system of daylight savings. About three weeks ago, Canberra went from AEST to AEDT, which means we have now turned our clocks an hour late. 

I couldn’t care less about it. 

I understand that people working defined times in a day would be thrown off by the sudden shift. But it didn’t affect me in any way, except giving me an extra hour of sleep every morning.

Aside from that, I don’t understand why the rest of the world gets so upset when the clock turns. It’s a mild, temporary, adjustment that we get used to within a couple of weeks.

I don’t see purpose in physically delaying time. So why complain and make a big deal of it?

When I look through my bedroom window, at 6 pm, it’s bright, sunny, and warm. I’m amazed that I can spend another couple of hours wandering around the lake before it gets too dark to stay out without a flashlight. (It’s not hot yet, and I’m not looking forward to summer.)

My point is, we’re getting so much daylight in a day. When nature herself gives us more than we could ever ask for, we shouldn’t be worrying about petty things like human made clocks.

If we just stop trying to fit time into our constraints, perhaps we’d be happier and notice all the time that we do have in our hands.

Bring on the light

“Alright, your reminder is set for 5 this afternoon.”

That’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear in my life. Five pm has always been evening for me. In India, it’s tea time. It’s that wonderful part of the day everyone waits for all day, shuffling in their seats, under the sweltering pressure of workload in an air-conditioned office. It’s the time to crack those knuckles, stretch those calves, and walk up to the canteen for some piping chai and samosas. And gossip. Or in my case, people watching.

Soon after that break, some would go straight home at 5:30 while some others would go back to their seats, to Facebook or YouTube before heading out.

Five o’clock was a magical time.

When I arrived in Canberra just before winter, it was almost the same. Except, as we stepped deeper into the icy dryness or the cold, five became something of a warning time—for me, in particular. It was still magical, but instead of it signalling the end of the work day, it felt more like the end of the day itself. Darkness would arrive not long after and I didn’t want to wander the still-unfamiliar streets. By seven, although not tired, I was drained of all mental energy. Lethargy wrapped itself round my shoulders, an extra layer over my blanket, comforting, cocooning me in its warm embrace. It wouldn’t leave until 10 the next morning. 

Productivity stooped. It didn’t help that I was working from home. Two hours of continuous work felt like an achievement.

Then came spring.

Today, I’ve done more things in a day than I thought was possible. And it’s still afternoon. It’s my first experience with the season, and even though I whined to a friend how hot it is during the day, I’m still pleased that I have enough time to do things I’ve always meant to do.

I’m enjoying the daylight and all up for making the most of it—although, on the first day of Daylight Savings, I caught the massive clock in the city (like Big Ben, but smaller and in Canberra) an hour behind my automatic smartphone’s time, and had a small panic attack.

All that aside, it’s warm and beautiful now. Super hot during the late-morning or early-afternoon hours, but as the day wanes, light shines through spaces between trees, refracting through the window panes, and ricocheting off my specs.

Love it.

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.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.

Instead, 

I have sunscreen. 

Moisturiser.

Petroleum jelly, because I’m still recovering from winter dryness.

I have lip balm.

Deodorant.

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. 

Normal. 

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.

It’s necessary. 

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.

Floriade in Canberra

For 32 years, Australia has welcomed spring with tulips. This means, at this time every year, the government assembles millions of flowers in a grand public park in Canberra, and invites people from all over the country to visit and experience nature.

Floriade 2019 in Canberra - 5

In all its glory—
Floriade,
human vanity.

The festival is called Floriade. And this year’s theme was World in Bloom. For an entire month, these flowers sit in their designated spots, laughing in the sun, opening its petals, attracting birds, selfie sticks, and macro lenses of all sizes.

To call it glorious is an understatement.

With flowers, the lake, herons, and falling buds in the backdrop, people flocked to photograph themselves and the free pricelessness.

To call it beautiful is injustice.

Floriade hosts people from all over the country. Not just various shades and accents of white, but also hundreds of shades of brown and black. The air echoed with varieties of Australian, American, Asian, and European.

As I sat on a bench, flower gazing and people watching, flashes of colour showered not only from the blossoms and the sunshine they reflect, but also from the rainbow of whirlwind coming from spring dresses, khaki trousers, yoga pants, singlets, hats, and caps, mingled with heaving sighs and perfumed sweat.

What a great celebration of spring.

Spring in Canberra

And they fall

As war mother’s tears
shedding, scattering plenty,
yet prettier, spring.