Loadshedding, Bandha and a Rotating Lighthouse

December 21, 2011 By: microphile


As Jack Johnson’s melodies bordered around an unsettling verse “a billion people died in the news tonight, but not so many cried at the terrible sight”; I could faintly hear one of the FM jingles about to end and a news program about to start. Most of the times, traveling in micros is the best way to remain informed; not only because an FM is always tuned on inside a micro but also because then, these news on air start to instigate various sorts of responses from people.

This particular news was about the increased power cuts, commonly referred to as loadshedding; a weird combination of the word “load” and “shedding”, whereby, the general idea is to delude people into thinking some sort of load is actually being shed by the frequent absence of electricity from houses; and somehow we have contributed in this “shedding” business. “Dui ghanta agadi…(two hours after/before?)…..”; suddenly, a woman clad in pashmina-ish shawl, looked back and exclaimed, “Lau khattam hune bho…bujhnu bho” (Alas, this is going to turn out bad, do you understand). Please forgive my Nepali to English translation.

I was attempting to concentrate on the music, but someone’s ecstatic voice boomed over what the woman was desperately trying to convey to a lady sitting behind me.   

“Most of the people confuse Abu Dhabi for the capital of Dubai; but Abu Dhabi is actually the capital of the UAE, you know. I mean, I went to Dubai some seven years ago and every time I come back, all I have to do is get off at the airport, stay at a hotel, leave for my village and then come back after some weeks, catch a bus to the airport and back to work. So, this time around I decided to roam around the valley. It’s been two days but because of the bandha, I haven’t really seen much of Kathmandu except tire burning and angry people.”

I glanced off from the pages of Slaughterhouse 5 by Vonnegut to see to whom the voice belonged to. Believe it or not, I can actually listen to music, read a book, eavesdrop on people’s conversation, keep track of how many FM stations did the driver dai change; and observe what people are wearing all at once while traveling in a completely congested micro.

But to get the point here, Monday was a bandha; and the discontent was predominantly visible in the conversations people were having inside the micro. People were complaining what a mess it created in their mundanely conditioned lifestyle, some people missed important interviews, some people had to walk to their work and some people, like me, had nothing much to lose except free will.

“’If I hadn’t spent so much time studying Earthlings,’ said the Tralfamadorian, ‘I wouldn’t have any idea what was meant by “free will.” I’ve visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studies reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.” Page 62, Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut.; Tralfamadorians are the creatures who live in a planet called Tralfamadore and the protagonist of the book, Billy Pilgrim had been abducted to this planet.

While the bandha remains a matter of controversy; an outcry of impunity, corruption, protest and manipulation all mashed together so that we are unable to separate the right and the wrong from the gray; the voice is trying to explain someone about a rotating lighthouse in Dubai that is supported by some four thousand solar panels. 

 

Microphile loves to travel however, since her fantasies of travels into the Egyptian pyramids and Saharian deserts are, well, mere fantasies; she makes do with the hazardous amount of traveling she has to do in micro-buses, aka, micros. She loves to read while traveling in micros. All that traveling has most probably caused some spinal/brain injuries that she is unaware of; while she continues to travel by micros every morning; observing the mundane and writing about them in this blog.

image source: ekantipur.com

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