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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Living in Dushanbe: Daylight Saving Time

I love daylight saving time.  My favorite time of year is high summer when dusk lasts deep into the evening and the children go to bed when it's still light enough for Brandon and I to sit outside and enjoy a sweetly cold bowl of ice cream in the lingering twilight.  I eagerly look forward to April (apparently, now March) each year when the evening stretches an hour further into night and I can forget that winter ever happened or will every come again.  June 21st is the saddest day of the year, the beginning of the year's march into cold, dark winter.

So far I've always lived in places that observe daylight savings time.  There has been a staggering of times - for a few weeks the deviation from US time is off an hour and even one Ramadan season in Egypt brought a month long suspension of it - but daylight saving time has always given me that extra golden hour of evening.

Not so in Dushanbe.  Tajikistan is mostly agrarian - and quite a few houses still don't have electricity or running water - so there isn't much of a need to monkey with the clocks twice a year.  When the sun rises, you get up.  When it goes down, you go to bed.  Why mess with something that works just fine?  After all, the sun has been rising and setting for a pretty long time now.

Dushanbe is about the same latitude as DC, varying by less than half a degree, so we still have reasonably long evenings.  Right now the sun is setting at 7:15, with twilight lasting until about eight, so it stays light enough for Brandon to make it home to work in full sunlight and we can eat outside when the weather is nice.  Of course I'd prefer to have an extra hour of sunlight in the evening, but it hasn't been as much of a hardship as I feared.

What is obnoxious, however, is the sunrise.  We live a few streets from a hill, so we're blocked in the morning from direct sunlight for quite some time (which isn't so nice in the winter), but it still gets light pretty early.  Brandon and I wake up at five to exercise, which is pretty early in the morning.  It's early enough that I've never woken up to light, even in high summer in Virginia.  I've finished my run to light skies, but never started.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that it was almost light enough to run without any light, and by now it's definitely light enough to run without any light.  This is nice - nobody likes the ambience of single bulb fixtures lighting a 1700 square foot space - and it's pleasant to not feel like one is rising before any sane person ought to be awake.  But it's also unsettling.  The sun isn't supposed to be showing up that early.  Only cold, unpleasant places, like Moscow, have to deal with really early sunrises in the sumer.  Sane places are supposed to let the sane people who live in them sleep in a little bit.

On weekdays this isn't a problem - Brandon and I are awake before sunrise and the children are up around 6:30 for breakfast - but it does get obnoxious on the weekends.  Last Saturday, Brandon rolled over, flapping for the clock.  It was on my nightstand, so I groggily checked the time.  Five forty-five.  Brandon drowsily apologized as we drifted back to sleep, "it was just so light, I thought it was time to get up."  We don't sleep in too late on the weekend - usually the fights and bathroom trips get loud enough around seven - but it's irritating to be able sleep in until seven, only to have light creeping in around the shades at five-thirty.  It ruins a good lie-in.

Thankfully (and sadly) solstice is only seven weeks away and the sunrise can only get so much earlier before it starts heading the other way and we can start to get a little more sleep on the weekend.  But until then, I might have to start wearing an eye mask to bed.  I'm not sure how you remote northerners do it.

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