You don't really understand the importance of electricity till you just get back from the supermarket and pop a box of Amul Vanilla Ice-cream into your freezer. Then you proceed to curse the hot, humid weather outside and simultaneously switch on the fan to do some ‘airy’ justice to your clammy neck, when POOF! There is a dull thud of gadgets switching off – semi-ground dosa batters, clothes stuck mid-spin inside washing machines and the depressing sound of the fan blades above you slowing off to a final halt.
And in your mind the vision of the Amul Ice cream in the fridge succumbing to the heat and that cheeky, lip-smacking Amul girl turning into a soddy mess of ice cream soaked colours.
But then again, let’s admit that there is a certain old-world charm to sitting in darkness and silence, freed from the constant lure of gadgets and incessant noise. With the mosquitoes for company. OK, forget I said that last bit.
Still not convinced? Here are a few of my favourite reasons why power cuts are fun:
1. If you're a student, a power cut signifies a very much sought after respite from textbooks, reference books, teacher’s notes, classmates’ notes, your own notes and question paper banks – all boasting a minimum of 1000 pages each. Chances are when the lights are out; children tend to sneak out of their torture chambers under the pretext of candle-hunting and oh-so-casually sidle into the family conversations in the living room.
But if you're in the midst of any major exams, then tough luck. Chances are the parents would have invested in a state-of-the-art inverter that holds charge for up to 24 hours, so that it gives you ample time for a complete ‘night out’ or a gazzillionth revision over the portions.
2. Anything that runs on electricity will switch off. And for a change; you can listen to your inner voices, the voices of your families and sometimes the voices of your neighbours. I’ll come to that later on.
The television won’t blare out the injustices and melodrama of the 8 o’clock serial. The mothers won’t be thrilled about this but the rest of the family will rejoice. You’ll stay away from the computer and hopefully your 3G model phone will be running low on charge.
3. If you're in search for answers or just a bit of quiet, you can always step out onto the front veranda or porch and have a silent moment there. All you'll see in the darkness is the faint glow of candles in nearby houses. You’ll hear the comforting sound of crickets and feel a certain not unpleasant ‘disconnectivity’ from life. If it’s the monsoon season, there might be the gentle pitter-patter of rain, and unfortunately a battalion of mosquitoes who will drive you inside sooner than you would like to.
4. Power cuts are also the best time to pry into your neighbour’s lives. No seriously! When the house plunges into darkness mid-sentence, mid-bath and mid-meal...then all hell breaks loose. And the darkness carries voices far. So we can hear the Uncle next door hollering for the matchsticks to his son. Someone cursing from the bathroom trying to locate a misplaced mug.
Get me a candle...first here please.
The Granny complaining about yet another missed serial episode. The Aunty exasperated, asking the maid to please cover the dishes, the lizards are ruthless, vile creatures!
And my personal favourite - the inevitable fight between family members over whose turn it was to charge a fast dying emergency lamp.
5. Families get closer when there is no electricity and hence no entertainment but each other to turn to. Sometimes Antakshari of terrible pitch and immense fun are played or perhaps someone might start off a string of ghost stories to keep you awake for the rest of the night. If the outage extends beyond an hour, the melting-but-deliciously-so Amul Ice-cream is hastily passed around in mismatched cups to all. A pre-dinner treat.
But let me tell you, once the lights come back on the magic dies. The family lets out a collective sigh of relief. Reluctant children are sent away roomward for studies, the women folk scurry back to the televisions and the men engage in extinguishing of candle flames and recharging of laptops and mobiles. Life as we know it, resumes.