Every morning, I wake up and check the schedule.
Today, it’s 7 am to 3 pm and then 7 pm to 1 am: That’s 14 hours.
If you’re thinking that’s my work schedule, you’re probably wrong. That’s the routine for today’s load shedding – the routine power cut off in Kathmandu, which effective January 19 has increased to 14 hours a day, 98 hours a week.
It’s been five days that I’ve been in Kathmandu. In three years time, it’s the second time that I’ve actually packed my first world comforts and moved to this developing country, which in all fairness is home.
As much as I am used to the luxuries of the first world, I should say that I am also accustomed to the third world lifestyle – living without power is certainly one of them. And I must say that during all the years I have lived in Kathmandu, a city that has been infested with power cuts throughout my adult life, I, along with most of the city dwellers, have tend to develop a coping mechanism to life without power.
From candles and kerosene-lit lamps to solar-powered lanterns, we now have advanced to inverters, which sucks up the power when there is electricity, charges itself and generates backup power. At least, the room is lit up and I can charge my phone and computer. But it doesn’t support the electric heater or the water kettle. So yes, the room is cold – at least five degrees colder than the outside temperature – and I have to walk into the freezing kitchen in layers of clothes to fetch me some tea.
But regardless of having no power for 14 hours a day, which is an utter inconvenience, I do think that it has some little perks.
When there is no power, as much as my eyes are fixed to my portable gadgets, by which I mean my phone and computer (I don’t own any other gadgets), they usually give up after a while, and unless there is electricity, I cannot recharge them. So I take this time to reflect on ideas, read and indulge into things that I would have never done had there been power. During the past few days, during those dark, powerless evenings, I have been catching up on my readings. And I definitely plan to read a little bit more.
During the routine power cuts, I have also made a point to call friends in and around the city. And no, I’m not texting or Skyping with them, but actually calling them and making a point to meet one of these days when the lights go out.
Yes, so when the lights are out, it’s a good opportunity to rekindle with your friends and family. Sitting in the living room, talking about mindless and meaningful stuff, it just seems like the 90s when I was growing up, living in the pre-Internet age.
Also, not having lights until 1 am or so is a good reason to go to bed. So gone are those days when I’m online, doing some unnecessary research until 3 am. It’s also an end to waking up late in the mornings. I’ve actually started to wake up at 7 am, which is quite unusual for me. I take it as a good change.
I’m sure that in the coming hours and days I’m going to come up with more ideas and a list of things-to-do when there is no power.
I’m going to be in this city for a while now. And for a fact, the hours without power is going to stay. So rather than groaning and moaning about something I cannot change or control, I just plan to develop some coping mechanisms to combat life without power. And as much as I think it’s going to be difficult, I plan to dictate those dark hours for my own good.