Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Lights Out

When you have limited electricity you make the most of daylight. 

Here people are asleep early and awake at first light. 

Really first light. 

The rooster wakes us up at 4:45am and we roll out of our beds and by 5:30am we go out for a morning walk through Patan.  The light is that grainy pre-dawn monochrome and it is clear we are already late comers to the street party.  Students in their school uniforms and back packs are already on their way to schools, shop keepers are open for business,  if you walk through the street markets pungent meat is already slaughtered and colourful vegetables and flowers are artfully displayed for sale.

Daylight is a precious commodity when rolling brownouts limit electricity every day.   During monsoon, with lots of hydro-electricity available, the times without electricity are limited to two 4-hour periods a day.  A schedule on the wall tells you on any given day which hours it’s on and off.  Once the monsoon rains stop however and Nepal needs to rely on India to import power, the cuts can be up to an astounding 16 hours per day.  Rumours are swirling that this winter it may be up to 20 hours per day without power.

If you are a student that leaves little time for studying outside of daylight hours.  Access to Internet and searching for resources online are similarly restricted.  If you are lucky you live in a residence or your parents home, that has an inverter and you are supplied with auxiliary power during the cuts.   If you aren’t, you study before the sun goes down or in the few hours that power flows into your house.

Try it sometime.  Limit yourself to 16 hours of electricity and to make it more realistic make at least 8 of them in the middle of the night. 

Now I know why I get emails from my Nepali colleagues in the middle of the night.

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