July 15, 2008
I’m sitting at a café behind a Yoga shallah listening to the monsoon rains hammer down onto the city of Mysore. I have a tiny orange kitten in my lap and his purr provides the undertones for the rain and the occasional clap of thunder.
The electricity, today, has been out more than it has been on, and my frustration with the loss of wireless internet has dissipated as I have resigned to being still for awhile.
The intermittent power has an unexpected side effect. When the power goes out, work stops. When work stops and electronics lay silent, then we turn instead to conversation, books, or simply to our own thoughts. In Delhi, the best night we had together was when the power was out all night and we sat and delved through long enriching conversations by diffused flash lights instead of sitting behind 5 Macs and exchanging thoughts intermittently while multi-tasking on work and photos and blogs and emails.
When the electricity goes out at the offices where Alyssa, Claudia, and Steph work, it becomes an excuse to sit and talk with your coworkers instead of staring at a computer screen. Less work gets done, but are we really worse off?
It is somehow reassuring that when I am eating in restaurants or cafes and suddenly I find myself in the dark, no one skips a beat in their meals or conversations. It is a perfectly normal occurrence. There are no angry calls to the electricity company, or if there are, I have not heard them. This is just a part of life. And once you accept that these essential conveniences are not always going to be there, you realize that they often just block out the true essence of living.
There is a bit of irony here, because I am working on a project to improve the availability of electricity (in an environmentally friendly manner) and I am currently staring at a computer screen by virtue of laptop battery…