Chasing time, snow and happiness

Published: Nov 08, 2019, 05:06 IST | Rosalyn D'mello | Mumbai

As wintertime approaches and the sun hides behind several layers of soggy clouds, I hunt for ways to beat the gloom

I am told there is an eerie silence when it snows. I cannot wait to feel all of it first-hand; to stick my tongue out and have flaky deposits rest on its surface
I am told there is an eerie silence when it snows. I cannot wait to feel all of it first-hand; to stick my tongue out and have flaky deposits rest on its surface

RosallynJust like that, on October 27, the clocks were readjusted. Even now I'm a bit confused whether the time is what it was meant to be, or if we've gained an extra hour.

Daylight Saving Time came into force, and when it did, my body went a bit out of sync, as if I had fallen out of time. Instead of the usual 3.30 hours, India is now ahead of Italy by 4.30 hours.

When I wake up, because my deadlines are based on the Indian clock, I feel like I've already lost half the day. When it is 6pm here, I realise it might be too late to call my parents.

I'm still searching for rhythm, trying to get back on the beat. To add to the chronological confusion, the sun has been hiding the last two days under layers of soggy clouds. Tomorrow, I have been informed, the weather may seem apocalyptic here, with litres and litres of rain expected. The average temperature these days is between nine and 11°C. I am told this does not make it winter. Not until the mercury dips below zero degrees will it legitimately be wintertime.

Because I'm unaccustomed to the gloominess of a European rainy day (FYI: I've never been to England), I am finding ways to circumvent the short-circuiting of the sunlight. A week before the time change, for instance, when it was slated to rain the whole day, we took the Austrian-built, century-old funicular railway up to the Mendelpass (1,363m), and it felt as if we were ascending into the sky on a railway carriage, straddling through thick mist, until we arrived at the top, from where it seemed like we were above the clouds.

My proposition for countering tomorrow's potential dreariness (because there is, it appears, a limit to how much one can Netflix and chill), is to go to a mountain that's high enough, where instead of rain we encounter snow. For someone like me who has only ever experienced the phenomenon in the past tense, or from afar, after it had already unfolded as an event, this is hugely exciting. I am told there is an eerie silence when it snows. I cannot wait to feel all of it first-hand; to stick my tongue out and have flaky deposits rest on its surface; to roll my fingers through the freshly fallen snow and play with it, mould it, lick it, as if I were tasting clouds.

It occurred to me that in my mid-30s especially in an age of over-exposure to social media and the ensuing #FOMO that it perpetuates, it's possible to feel envy towards everything that everyone else but you seems to be doing; especially if you follow a fair share of wealthy people, who hire private water taxis in Venice or go to the most elite Michelin-star restaurants where the waiting period goes into years.

I think I stopped feeling jealous about two years ago when I finally came to terms with the fact that I will never earn as much as them, and don't have a family trust fund to dip into. For me, flying first class will always feel luxurious, because it will never be my reality.

But I can bet all the money I don't have, that in all likelihood, if and when I ever do get spontaneously upgraded, I will perhaps derive much more pleasure and nourishment from the experience than many of those for whom a first-class or business-class cabin is a regular travel feature.

This isn't an instance of sour grapes; it is more like finding excitement in discovering all that still lies before us; all the many experiences we have yet to look forward to; and how we may benefit from accessing many of these things later in life because we will have the privilege of perspective.

I know many people who endure steady but mind-numbing day jobs in the hope of earning enough money to take a vacation. Of course, there is logic in that. But sometimes I wonder whether it is worth it — to choose ephemeral contentment that's hard to sustain when one returns to one's reality over a more care-free life, where you can afford less but find yourself in possession of time to enjoy everyday pleasures.

It all boils down to an individualised understanding of what constitutes a delicacy; what it means to live luxuriously.

I have no answers to offer, but I'm trying this thing where I have opted out of the rat race. I've found it's possible to live modestly and yet fully if you dare to bite the bullet and customise your own path.

My biggest sacrifice is other people's notion of what my life should look like. I'm not invested in owning my own house or coveting anything that my means won't allow. I've simplified my dreams and streamlined the sources of my happiness. For the moment, my joy is contingent only on the thought of watching snow fall for the first time. Everything else can wait.

Deliberating on the life and times of Everywoman, Rosalyn D'Mello is a reputable art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. She tweets @RosaParx
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