It’s probably the rarest natural scent here in the UK. It’s always raining (pissing), rarely sunny for long enough to make the earth go dry, and very rare to have a period of sunshine immediately followed by a shower. Usually the weather changes are interspersed with days of dull blue-grey clouds and occasional pissing drizzle.
Today I woke up to that lovely, earthy smell. It’s been unseasonably warm and sunny last few days. It hasn’t rained in nearly a week. The spell was broken early morning with a short, sharp shower. The result is a sweet, lingering smell. The smell that reminds me of home. Petrichor.
The BBC has an article with photos of celebrities in front of the Taj Mahal over the decades. The thing that caught my eye was how the sky is nearly never blue in the recent photos. While the yellowing of the Taj’s marble is well documented, the slow yellowing of our sky is well known but rarely discussed (GDP growth trumps everything else).
Here are the photos, chronologically arranged:
1966, George Harrison
2001, Aussie cricket team
2016, Kate & William
Of course this set is in no way representative. They are too few data points. All susceptible to the weather on the day, the camera settings, and the post processing.
There is also a bit of confirmation bias on my part. I’ve noticed, sadly, the disappearance of blue day skies and starry night skies for over two decades. And I probably looked at the photos to confirm that.
But this also gives an idea that this may not be the worst approach. There are probably billions of photos shared of the Taj on social media every year. We could create a program that scans for them, dates them, filters out the outliers, and then analysis the trend of sky colour (and Taj’s marble colour) over time. Time to put all that social media oversharing to good use :)
Recently I’ve been noticing a lot of use of back instead of ago when referring to a point in the past.
For me it’s always been ‘a few days ago’, not ‘a few days back’. Yet, the curse of ‘a few periods back’ keeps on spreading. It’s been appearing more frequently on the Indian sites I follow. It also keeps popping up on some of the American sites I follow.
Every time I read back in that context, I get a small knock on my head. Then I have to reread that sentence a few times, saying ago instead of back to wipe out the bad taste, before reading on.
Could we all just stop using that ugly ‘back’ please?
They were initially bemused by the complexity of bus timetables, bin collections and—most of all—by the changeable weather. “In our country, when it’s summer, it’s summer,” says Ziead Alsaouah, Mr Batak’s son-in-law.
I had a very similar reaction to the weather when I moved here 8 years ago.
North India, where I spent the first 24 years of my life, has a very predictable weather. When it’s summer, it’s hot and dry for months on end. When it’s the rain season, it’s raining almost every day for a month. And when winter arrives, it’s bitterly cold, mostly dry, and frequently foggy (recently smoggy) for months on end.
Contrast that to the weather here on the island – it’s common to have at least two seasons in a day. Three’s not uncommon either. We had two months of constant dry, warm summers this year, and it’s already caused a mild panic. If we get a week of snow in the winter, news bulletins are full of ‘snowcalypse’ references.
It’s unsettling, at least initially, for people coming from places with stable, ‘continental’ weather patterns. Where culture, life, traditions, activities are based on the season, what do we do when the seasons just aren’t anymore?