The strange thing, after you’ve lived in Nepal for a while, about getting extra power when you least expect it, is the euphoria of it, the feeling like you’re living on borrowed time or have been given an unexpected gift, and you’d best make the most of it. Tonight–for whatever reason–the power stayed on for an extra eleven minutes past the scheduled time when it should have gone off. It’s usually pretty punctual. Unless there’s been a good rain, or perhaps a special holiday, and they decide that they can afford to just leave it on for the day.
Perhaps this is the moment to explain, for those who don’t know, that Kathmandu has scheduled power cuts, referred to as “load shedding.” The city is divided into groups, with a schedule published that lets you know when the electricity will go off where you live. Mine is Group One.
This state of affairs can be circumvented, of course, with generators or solar panels or UPS devices; and while I can’t afford these at the moment I honestly don’t mind. While there are, most certainly, moments when the power going off is frustrating or interruptive, I’m used to it, and it doesn’t bother me. I enjoy following the rhythms of my neighborhood, listening to the thick silence or surrounding sounds that suddenly seem stark and clear when the electricity’s off, particularly at night, and waiting for the cry of a child, somewhere nearby–“Bhatti aio!” – “Power’s here!”
And even though I miss my fan on a warm night like tonight, when a strong breeze blows in the window and moves across my body it provides a moment of joy, and gratitude, and unexpected bliss.