The Times They Are a-Changin’

I use my cellphone as an alarm clock. When I set an alarm, it tells me how many hours are left for it to go off. When setting the alarm for 5:00 in the morning at 11:30 last night, I noticed something odd. The phone claimed I had 6 hours 30 minutes before the alarm would wake me up. It then occured to me that most of Western Europe was going to turn the clocks back by 1 hour at 3:00 in the morning to undo Central European Summer Time.

Under normal circumstances, I would have appreciated an extra hour in the bed on a Sunday morning. But since I had to go pick up my wife from the airport, I was beginning to get concerned. She was due to land at 6:00 AM. After the timezone change on Sunday morning, she would be landing at 5:00 AM. Which meant that I really should have been setting the alarm for 4:00 AM. A quick visit to showed me that there was a 4:47 AM train which would get me to Schipol at 5:00 AM. I took a mental note of it and slept. Or rather I thought I would sleep.

I spent the night tossing between nightmares whose dominant theme was the failure of my cellphone’s alarm. At 3:56 AM, I woke up convinced that the alarm would work and slept peacefully for all of 4 minutes.

At 4:30 AM, I was at the North entrance of the Amsterdam Centraal Station. There are two layers of doors to get in. You pull the outer doors while the inner doors slide when they detect motion. I could open the outer doors but the inner doors were still locked. On the 2 feet concrete floor between the two doors, 3, maybe 4 gentlemen were lying half-asleep in their winter finery and the place smelt decidedly of pot. I ran for the main entrance.

At 4:40 AM, I was at the main entrance. None of the doors were open here either. A small crowd was beginning to form - all waiting to be let in. I finally found the sole entrance from where people were being allowed in.

Most of the people entering the station at this time were back from partying all night in Amsterdam. The ticket checkers were being extra careful with them. By 4:45 AM I was at platform 8b, just in time to catch the inter-city train to Rotterdam which would get me to Schiphol at 5:00 AM.

Haloween is the dominant theme of costume parties these days. Given the inordinate amount of drinking and pot smoking that goes on at these parties, most people looked like zombies even without help from their costumes. Others looked like they had just come back after having played meaty roles in various productions of Titus Andronicus. In short, nothing but the very dregs of humanity travel this early on a Sunday morning.

I reached the airport on time. When my wife called me at 5:10 AM, I spoke in my muddled, sleepy voice and pretended that I was still at home. Before she could explain the timezone changes of last night, I dropped the ruse and told her that I was waiting for her at our designated meeting point. To see her come running grinning made it all worthwhile.

p.s. The phone automatically adjusted the timezone and shows the correct time but the wrist watch needs my intervention and I want to stay in CEST.

The wrist watch is staying in CEST with meThe wrist watch is staying in CEST with me

October 30, 2011