I have lost count of the number of power cuts we have had in the last couple of days. Power cuts are frequent in Bangalore any way but it is particularly bad now the monsoon has come. Like the roads in India which are made of aspirin so they dissolve with the first rain, the power lines seem also to be made of some soluble material that renders them unable to transmit electricity at the slightest hint of precipitation or anything over a gentle breeze.
The thing is we don’t realize how much we need electricity until we don’t have it. The reality of modern life is that all the things we need to live a basic existence these days require some form of power. The flat screen TV, the Wi-Fi, the rice cooker, the bread maker, the ice cream maker, the I-pad charger, the coffee machine. Without electricity there is suddenly a huge void that needs to be filled. I have to remind myself that water for the cup of tea can in fact be boiled on the gas stove, although often laziness sets in and I grab a glass of water instead.
We do have a backup inverter which runs the fans and the lights in the event of a power cut but often the power cuts are so frequent and long that the inverter battery also gets drained and we end up sitting in candle-light imagining what is on TV.
For reasons unknown to my technophobe brain there is a 5 amp circuit and a 15 amp circuit in the house. The lights and fans run on the 5 amp and the important stuff like the TV, the bread maker, the electric oven and the kettle run on the 15amp. During a power cut the inverter only supplies the 5 amp circuit and with the frequency of the power cuts this does create significant inconveniences. The other night, trying to roast some chicken breasts for dinner, it took an hour and a half instead of the usual 25 minutes as the power kept disappearing, coming back for 5 mins, in which time the oven came back up to temperature, and then going again. By the time the chicken was cooked, all my hunger had disappeared!
On other occasions I have set up the bread maker on a delayed timer overnight, hoping to come downstairs in the morning and be greeted by the delightful smell of freshly baked bread, instead discovering a soggy and slightly warm ball of dough at the bottom of the bread machine, an overnight power-cut screwing up my dining plans.
It’s not just at home that one gets affected. I have often been unable to withdraw money from the ATM machine because there is no power.
Big companies and Hotels get around the problem by having their own generators and I read somewhere that an astonishing 70% of the diesel consumed in India in fact goes to run generators. However for the average home a generator is too expensive and most people now make do with an inverter.
It does make you wonder though, with our society so dependent upon electricity, what would happen if it suddenly disappeared. Would the world be able to function?