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Keeping Us In The Dark

Keeping Us In The Dark

October 16, 2011

Exploring the ‘brighter side’ (no pun intended) of electricity outages.

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. 


  • Maria
    19.10.11 02:28 PM
    @Deepak: why thank you my friend...quite a flattering comment!

    @Vikram: Haha..lets relax a bit and enjoy the simpler aspects of life shall we? I agree, 75% of the time, power cuts are a shame and nuisance, but this is a mere humorous version of it. And FYI, I have spent a good part of my life in a very power-outage-riddled village in Kerala. Have passed my engineering studying under flickering candlelight but I have also enjoyed those days.
    Have some Amul Icecream and chill my friend :)
  • Khushi
    19.10.11 10:46 AM
    yeah agree! outer darkness can compel one to look for inner light, and in hot weather, compel me to to go for a walk.. again an advantage fro fatty like me.. lol!! :P
  • Karmic blogger
    Karmic blogger
    19.10.11 09:05 AM
    Never thought Telengana would create such an impact across the nation...:(
  • bemoneyaware
    18.10.11 12:30 PM
    LOL Very funny and bang on. Thanks for lighting up my day :-)
  • maitreyeechowdhury
    18.10.11 11:06 AM
    Well put
  • Dr Vikram
    Dr Vikram
    18.10.11 09:48 AM
    Are you kidding me? I think the power cuts for those of us who pay our taxes is a loss of governance and totally not acceptable. I think the government needs to plan better and not put pathetic excuses like short supply of coal. For the NRI's I guess this is a good example of good riddance to bad rubbish. For the record when did you last have a power cut in Singapore?
  • Deepak Doddamani
    Deepak Doddamani
    17.10.11 10:50 PM
    Normally I don't read lengthy posts.But your post kept me glued till the very end.
    Quite an interesting post.Cheers :)
  • Maria
    17.10.11 07:10 AM
    @Bhupendra: Yes true, nowadays the poor kids just cannot escape the drudgery of books, power or no power.

    @RAS : I agree, the only time families 'really' talk is during the good old power cuts.

    @HARRY: Thanks Harry :) And I have stayed for enough years in Kerala to have a very 'intimate' connection with electricity and its 'mood swings' back home :) But you're right about Singapore. In all my 5 years here, the electricity has never ever gone.

    @Nitin: Green they are indeed! A good point you have mentioned :)
  • Nitin
    17.10.11 01:02 AM
    Couldn't agree more.Power cuts used to be fun especially during good old child hood days, because we no longer were required to study :) ! The silence and hence the rare opportunity to spend some humanly time is something I enjoy during my India visits. And ya, power cuts are also green !! Nice post..
    16.10.11 08:57 PM
    Spot on with the powercut in India but
    in Singapore it's only about once in lifetife experience, but then i don't live in Singapore, so i don't know.

    The total silence was the best part about the powercut. This demostrates that the only time we get peace of mind
    in our life is the very source of the energy we relie on. How sad is this.
  • RAS
    16.10.11 05:21 PM
    very nice . Importance of any think can only be felt when the the same thing is vanished. but some time power cut is also good because if there is no power cut then pple like me will not move from television or parents like me will not leave his child to go out and play.
  • bhupendra
    16.10.11 06:45 AM
    Nice one, who better than FRIs(frustrated) can elucidate the elements of darkness :), in fact last week, we in office were talking power cuts in our school days ,candle light studies, exams,children now a days are not lucky though, parents buy battery inverters for power cuts ;)

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