Sunday, October 07, 2012

Blessing In The Form Of A Power Cut


 In the NGO project near Bangalore which I frequently visit, nights spent without power are not only not a hindrance they are considered almost romantic. This must be one of the few places on earth  where to this day, we use solar lanturns or candle power for illumination after dark - unless someone with shining teeth who has been using Colgate whitening toothpaste agrees to sit smiling for us for two to three hours in the dark in order that we might see each other.

Contrast this with Bombay where we are blessed with so much more electricity than our fair share and so spoiled, that each sudden power failure catches us unawares and has us swearing at the government as we go scrabbling in the dark for candles and torches. But this Saturday evening was an exception.

The sudden power failure in our area on Saturday night was one of those rare occasions which actually had me smiling.  I had returned home towards half past eight, from a music session round the corner, to find a loud dhoom dhoom teenage party in full swing on the building lawn. One of the juvenile brats of an older grey haired and equally brattish resident of the building was apparently celebrating his eighteenth, nineteenth or twentieth birthday. Somebody had said it was his engagement party but that was hard to believe because like, who would want to marry this noisy, spoiled rotten, lumpy looking kid who was so good at exercising his lung power and generally throwing his weight around?

Whoever was not part of the party was compelled into silence as nobody could make themselves heard above the deafening roar. Glancing down at the lawn from the balcony I saw a little groups of youngsters in jeans and mini skirts, dancing self consciously to the yucky music occasionally stopping in their tracks to answer a mobile phone or tap out an sms before carrying on. So when relief came in the form of a sudden blackout and the noise unwound to a jerky stop, my normal inclination to curse and sigh was replaced by a triumphant, “Oh goody goody goody.”

I spent the next hour alternating between wry, ironic short stories by Dorothy Parker and Pema Chodron on my Ipad, using the latter  to try and balance out the aggressively triumphant feeling which had surfaced, almost the kind that members of Hindu fascist groups must feel when something bad happens to their secular and equally evil opponents.

By the time the lights popped on again it was too late for the party to continue. Only the yowling of a couple of tomcats was audible. Maybe the blackout  was not such a bad thing for the young ones too, maybe they discovered the kind of togetherness that lies beyond noise.

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