Friday, August 26, 2005

Power Cuts

There are some photos to share of our train ride to Jaipur. Nothing too exciting, but it hasn't been possible to share them yet due to the power cuts this afternoon. Everytime I try to write an email or upload the photos the power goes out and the computer shuts off. It's the fourth or fifth power cut we've experienced today.

Power cuts are nothing unusual in India. Several businesses that depend on electricty have alternative sources that keep them going evben when the municipal supplies are down. This internet cafe is one such place. Half of the computers are on an alternate generator. I was on one of the computers not hooked up. The owner is lending me her personal computer at the moment. So nice of her, but I'm feeling guilty as she is just sitting with nothing to do now.

This morning we went to the post office so I could mail some things home. Mailing an international package is different in every country, but it's especially different in India. Instead of hunting for an appropriately sized cardboard box, it's time to hunt for a tailor. Jaipur has a tailor in residence in the front of the post office. All items are protected first in a plastic bag and then he measures out lengths of white linen to sew a custom bag for the contents. The end result looks something like a lumpy pillow.

From the tailor, the package has to be carried to the package counter. It seemed dark and stifling inside the post office, but it didn't become clear how dark and how stifling until the electricty flickered on for a few seconds. Overhead lights switched on, fans began to whir. And then the power was cut again. The air stopped moving and the room was plunged into darkness as the eyes took a while to dilate. The one constant, with or without electricity, was the computers. The post office has modernized, to an extent, and the computer work went on, municipal power supply or not. Diesel generators are the saviors of high tech enterprise in the cities. My package was weighed and the computer spit out the postage amount due. Business goes on.

As I've been typing, the power in the cafe has gone on and off again twice more. Back on again... for how long? What's most amazing is that people don't bat an eye. Power is great, but without it... life goes on.


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