Monday, December 10, 2007

Blacked out, blanked out

As a kid, when I grew up in India, power cuts were part and parcel of daily life. In spite of occasional irritation, it was taken in stride as there was nothing much that can be done about it. We know the country has less resources and more people. Just make the best of what we have and go ahead with life.

I have studied for my exams in candle lights. That's when understanding of Physics became more intense. I think 1 candle light is 1 watt. At home, ideally we used to have bulbs/tube lights of 75 or 100 watts. But of course I had lit much lesser candles to read. We knew a home is not complete without torches and candles.

As a much younger kid, small power cuts were more fun. I could give excuse of no light for not doing my homework or studying for exam. I remember many incidents when I frightened my cousins in dark. If there was a cool breeze blowing , we would all sit outside. It was a nice family time as there was nothing else to do. My parents would often narrate tit bits from their lives. My mom would invariably always fan us with a newspaper or a thin magazine and never be bothered about the resulting arm ache.

If these power cuts ran into hours, then it became a huge problem. Everyone would start losing patience because of the uneasiness caused by the heat, sweat and mosquito bites.

Coming to US where power cuts were practically unknown, I soon forgot how to deal with these minor causalities. The first power cut that I experienced here was in Aug 2003 when the whole New York and parts of New Jersey was plunged into darkness because of outage in power grid. It was sort of a minor disaster as we realised how much we are dependent on electricity. No microwave, no gas stove which means no cup of tea or fresh food, just thrive on leftovers. Garage door cannot be opened to take out car. Trains not running. Credit card and ATMs cannot work. These are the times when we long for a simple life where we can still sit outside, enjoy the breeze having a cup of tea in hand.

Since that day, I always have torch, candle and some no microwaveable food handy. We had a couple small power outages but none in that magnitude. Today winter storm is taking over northern US. Some parts are badly affected and some people are experiencing power outages. In a chilly weather where one can freeze in couple of minutes of winter exposure, I cannot imagine power outages.


Vasanthan said...

For myself i only experienced power outage when i went to India to visit relatives. i was really pissed because i can't watch the television. occasionally my uncle will power up the generator.

In Singapore there was one power outage due to some power grid shut down. Since it was so rare, my neighbors all got very excited and roamed around the neighborhood with their torch lights. There were more lights that night like it was deepavali! it only lasted 30 minutes. but that 30 minuted was exciting!

Sumana said...

All we aspire is a simple life, where the loss material pleasures do not affect our functioning. But J, what is the reasoning behind the 0 watt bulb? How many candles is it equivalent to???

Joy said...

Vasanthan: If power outages are rare, they can be fun. Thanks for dropping by. Keep visting.

Sumana: Good Q. No idea what 0 watt equals to :) :)

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