I’m breaking a sweat from J-walking across Grafton Street.
For the first time in a few mild months, I am reminded that this is the tropics.
The feel of humidity rising in the morning leaves a lot to be desired as I get caught in the mid-Friday-morning sun darting into Rusty’s for the ritual coffee and samosa.
Friendly nods between the frenzied buzz give way to warm murmurs interjected by the whizz-shhhhh of the coffee machine at Billy’s.
The whizz-shhhhh of Billy’s coffee in Rusty’s.
Waiting for coffee and a bite to eat.
Flippy-floppy thongs slap hard against concrete followed closely by the clip and clop of a heal and a shoe.
Someone mentions in passing that it looks like ‘it’s going to be a hot one’.
But I can’t tell if they were talking about the coffee or sun.
I notice the first signs of redness beginning to show on our melanin-deficient brothers and sisters who have ventured a bit too long without sunscreen.
The morning streets will soon be a buzz with tropical professionals zipping into air-conditioned hideaways of the next cafe to avoid unsightly sweat patches.
But the weather this time of the year is temperamental.
The rains do poke through humid blue skies on the odd occasion, cooling streets and shrinking sidewalks.
It lingers long enough to make us yearn for more sheltered walkways. But it stays away long enough for us to forget we need them.
The indecisive weather is part of the lifestyle. A short walk from the Esplanade to Cairns Central would attract an unwarranted public baptism by either precipitation or perspiration.
I call on a thought to distract myself from the rising hunger as I wait in the samosa line.
How is it that our city stops short of catering to our tropical lifestyle?
Why does my daily commute to work have to involve navigating patches of sweat from rising humidity?
We praise the outdoor tropical lifestyle, yet accept, and think it normal to spend the better part of the week inside air-conditioned cubicles glaring through double-glazed tinted panes.
This is the disjuncture of our existence that evades the public forum, but one that concerns us all.
This may be about to change.
I bite into my tamarind sauce topped samosa to settle the hangry morning monster in my belly.
James Cook University, under the vision of Dr Lisa Law and Dr Silvia Tavares, have initiated the Tropical Urbanism and Design Laboratory (TUD Lab) – a space to think about these particular issues.
Taking advantage of JCU’s agenda on pursuing research with a tropical focus, the JCU TUD Lab will pursue important questions concerning the livability of tropical urban environments. A feat warranted by a State of the Tropics report that claims close to 50% of the worlds people will live in the tropics by the middle of this century.
After having the Cairns Regional Council’s Tropical Urbanism vision applauded at the state level, this TUD Lab would mark an important milestone for thinking about tropical planning and urban design in Cairns, if not the world.
The Lab is set for launch at JCU on the 20th October with registrations essential for catering.
Maybe there will be some respite from the heat soon.
- RamblingsOfAGlobalCitizen (blog)