Sunday, August 13, 2006

Saturday night power down...

Now it may seem that I’m going on about this power thing a bit, but don’t read any of these as a “whine” – maybe more as a reflection on how much electricity is taken for granted. It’s a novelty the first 5-10 times it's pitch black in Lae... then you get over it.

When you’re living by yourself, and the power is shut off on a Saturday night – certain things run through your mind. First, you listen out for the sound (sometimes belated) of generators starting up around the neighbourhood. This is important – as you want to know that (a) you haven’t just forgotten to put enough pre-paid units in this week to the power machine or (b) some bright spark hasn’t cut your power line whilst digging a hole on your compound or (c) raskols haven’t cut the line to your house (extreme, but I’ve been told the story). Then you do the pitch-black-I’m-still-in-the-downstairs-office shuffle trying not to trip or drop this laptop on the way. Laptop screen stays open, as it’s the only light source you have. [I used to keep a torch downstairs at the end of last year when black-outs seemed more common. Mental note to start that again]. Then you open the downstairs door to your office, laptop and crap underneath arm, and start the locking up. Remember not to flick the alarm switch on – as alarm will go off when power returns if you do. It’s (almost) pitch black, but good enough to distinguish the bunches of keys and key-hole direction. There’s a sound behind me, and I automatically swing around. It’s Peter Junior (6yo) – walking back towards the house in the dark, can hardly see him at 7 metres. Deep breathe. St*pid… haven’t had any real problems since arriving to PNG, but both previous GS’s did have ‘difficulties’, and you can’t get the stories out of your head when it’s dark and there’s no fences around your makeshift compound. Heart racing for no logical reason. Shuffle back upstairs and figure out the keys to get into the house part – turn off the switch to the rice-cooker which would have been half-way through. No dinner menu for me now – not keen to finish roasting/frying by candle-light for dinner. Hungry. Find matches. Light pre-arranged/placed candles in kitchen. Go to fridge, open fridge, take beer, open beer, sit in front of candle.

Fast-forward a half hour – it’s still v.dark, but mood is helped by the remaining candles (must remember to buy more) and the flickering light of the laptop computer in the middle of my dark living room.

Sms a friend with a message “You out of power as well?”. Undertones not necessarily identified, - regardless, friend immediately replies with “not sure, on the way home now though and about to cook – come around anyways”.

Electricity... alone in the dark is OK for a bit – but not whilst hungry on a Saturday evening.


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