Bright night

summer sunset in Canberra
Summer sunset in Canberra

Summer rays shower—
as if the universe said:
and let there be light.


It’s my first summer in Canberra (yes, in this part of the world, Christmas is literally hot!), and I’ve been enjoying having abundant light—even at 8 pm.

Fans matter

old fan

Two days ago, I sat outside the cafe I volunteer at, trying to distract myself from my drooping eyes and get some work done. Just then, a cross breeze blew its way onto my face, grazing my cheek. A hot slap. It was 37 degrees in the late afternoon, and my laptop was so hot I couldn’t continue typing. I’d been sitting there for less than a half-hour.

It’s the hottest heat I’ve ever experienced. Having grown up in tropical Asia, I’m no stranger to high temperatures. My dark skin and an unhealthy obsession with zero skincare regimes have left me almost permanently tanned. And so when friends told me it’d be hot, and we wouldn’t want to do anything—even cooking elaborate meals—I was amused. I said nothing, however. I can handle the heat, I thought.

I thought wrong.

It came as a surprise to me that I’m not excited for the impending summer. It’s beautiful outside with lusciousness painting the town green, early morning sunlight beating off of hanging leaves, illuminating old brick houses making them, somehow, seem far more bright than they are. Sidewalks are abloom in yellow and purple and white, smiling, welcoming with warm head bobs.

It’s all lovely and inviting. Except it’s hot. Strangely enough, a lot of the houses I’ve seen in Canberra don’t have ceiling fans. Since I arrived just before winter, I didn’t think a no-fan home would be so bad. And yet, as I sit on my comfortable bed, now quite warm from me resting my butt on it for the last twenty or so minutes, mildly wondering if my heating up laptop would survive the summer, I realise—fans matter.


Image source: Unsplash.com

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.

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.