First Contact, Australia

It is winter in Australia now.

You know, winter, as in, cold. Well all right, it is just chilly. The temperature swings between the 30s and the 50s. Yesterday I think it crossed 60. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Think again.

None of the dwellings I have been in, have central heating. That changes everything. I can handle low temperatures outside the house. In fact, I love winter in the U.S. However, apparently, inside the house, I need a steady, balmy, 70 degrees.

My sister’s apartment, a very nicely appointed 2 bedroom, which costs a pretty packet of Australian dollars, does not have central heating. A beach cottage that we rented for the weekend, which was even nicer, and plenty expensive, did not have central heating. My nephews tell me that friends of ours who live in detached houses, do not have central heating. It seems to be the norm here.

Australians, damn their hides, are hardy types. Restaurants in the city have outdoor seating, which is almost always taken. It is a chilly, blustery, 55, and there are folks on the patio with a sandwich and fries. I am sorry, but that is nuts.

I find myself going to bed early, because I know that within a few minutes, my bed is going to be warm. In the mornings, I am getting out of bed late, for exactly the same reason. A hot shower has never seemed so good; once I am in, I never want to leave. During the day, I can’t bring myself to do any kind of work. Every activity requires braving the chill. Everything you touch is cold. Everywhere you put your foot down is chilly. The cold is seeping through my clothes, past my skin, into my bones, and has touched my mind. I am one of the wretched in a Dickens novel, on the verge of consumption, and will fade away in the next 10 pages. Or, maybe I am just living inside of a refrigerator.

My last stop was India, where it is summer. All my clothes were meant for India. Nothing I have is helping. I have taken to wearing two of everything – two tee-shirts, a tee-shirt and a shirt. I am going to bed fully clothed. Needless to say, I am running through my clothes fast. And that leads to another problem.

The house does not have a dryer. Most folks drip dry their clothes. But how do you do that in the winter, with temperatures in the 50s? My sister tells me, “You better do your laundry soon. The clothes take 2 days to dry”. Of course they do.

I have had to buy myself some warm clothing. Do you know what passes for common winter-wear here? Hoodies. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. My sister gave me a bright blue hoodie that was lying around the house. Where is the gun, I am thinking. I am not wearing a hoodie unless it comes with a gun, and a hip holster. Yes sir, that gun is going to be unconcealed.

Ah well, this is probably just my usual bout of culture shock. First contact always seems to be a little rough for me.

In any event, word to the wise – if you are visiting India, and Australia in June, and July, remember, you have to pack for two seasons.