Load shedding. Sounds like a big word. Like something from an engineering book you are unlikely to understand. But in simple laymen’s words it is: blackout. No electricity. Electricity company sheds the load off of the electricity grid. And how do they do that? It’s very simple – they shut off electricity to parts of the city. Such is life in Nepal. You know that talk about the right to basic infrastructure that’s often given in the West? Yeah, you can forget about that in Nepal. Here, the first thing you ought to do is buy some candles. Always, always have candles in the house. And matches. Or a lighter. Otherwise candles really don’t make any sense, now do they? Notice that candles will be your last resort when other lights fail to light-up your world. After that, stock up your house with a whole bunch of light-producing devices, either electrically charged or run by batteries. Always keep them charged. Keep your cellphone charged. Given it has a flash-light. If it doesn’t, buy a new cellphone that does. Your house should also have a big battery, popularly referred to as the inverter. This bad boy gets charged when there is electricity, and then happily provides you light when the electricity company decides to shed the load in your neighbourhood. Useful little things. Sometimes there is so much load shedding during the day that the inverter doesn’t get a chance to charge fully and dies on you just as you shampooed your hair and soaped your body. As you scramble for water and towel in the dark, think about installing solar panels on the roof, or a diesel generator. I’d never go for the generator as it is ruining the environment tremendously and adding to already unbelievable amount of pollution in Kathmandu. Be green, people.
Maybe you’re wondering how I live my life without electricity. Or maybe you’re not wondering about it at all. I’ll tell you anyways.
First and foremost, I take many a romantic shower. Yes, I shower in the candlelight almost every night. And it would be romantic if it wasn’t a bit sad, actually. Also, not a good time to shave legs. I savour every minute at work. There is a generator that keeps the heat from the AC running, that charges my cellphone and powers the router for WiFi. Work seems like heaven. I read a lot. Also, I stare in the wall a lot. And play Candy Crush. There is nothing else to do when there is no light at home. At some point I give up and go to bed embarrassingly early, like 8:30 pm. I’ve learned to walk around the house in the dark. I feel like I am turning in a cat. You know, because they can see really well in the dark.
Sometimes I stay up really late just to plug in my laptop to charge when the electricity comes. When I say really late, I mean like 11pm. What? In Nepal, that’s really late. Sometimes I choose to live life without modern technologies. Until the weekend that is, when I am at home and can charge devices whenever the electricity comes. You see, this is the thing. Most of the time the electricity is gone in the morning, when you would reasonably want to wash your hair and dry it, or maybe make a toast. Then it comes back when you’re at work. Once you’re back from work the electricity is gone again. No reheating your dinner in the microwave, but hey, you get to be all romantic in the bathroom. So really, unless your office has a generator, you pretty much spend the whole day without electricity. As daunting as it may sound, it’s actually not that bad. One somehow gets used to it fairly quickly. Or maybe I’m just saying it to make myself feel better.