Tuesday, September 13, 2005

War of the Worlds!!!

Yesterday at 12:40 PM I experienced my first power-cut in the US. Except for computers powering off it didnt sound like a big deal at first....but then a colleague came running saying the majority of Los Angeles was hit. Everyones mind wuz on the same topic...the day before's message from Al Qaeda that they wud hit LA and Melbourne. I wuz starving from having skipped breakfast and dinner the night before. To my dismay I found the elevators wouldnt work...came back to the office and decided to drink water to stave off the chickens in my tummy. That didnt work either. So began the climb down 24 storeys...at the half-way mark my limbs had joined my stomach in crying...but i wuz amazed by 40 and 50 year olds actually taking the steps up to get on with their work! At the lobby I had a real surprise..almost 500 odd people sprawled all around! Most were just back from lunch I presume and waiting for the power to be back and the elevators to start working!

I passed by them and walked over to the street...the traffic lights wouldnt work... it wasnt chaos yet...i really admired the people for that...its an unwritten rule here that the first cars at the crossroads get to go in whichever directions they want when the traffic lights are out...but I knew some people had violated that as sirens were wailing all around and LAPD cops hurrying to clear up traffic delays. I struggled on further ahead...I had almost 10 eateries to choose from in the vicinity...as I passed by each wuz met with a "Closed" sign...the reason wuz their cash drawers were automatic. Thought of calling a friend in the downtown area to find out how he wuz doing...the phone networks were jammed!!!

I seated myself at one of the outdoor tables of a restaurant...dang, i couldnt even get a chocolate to eat...well as you all must have guessed by now...I badly needed a reason to smile...and, and I thought abt what a power-cut means to Indians...its so much a part of our lives...we are so ready for it...ups's for our computers, inverters for our homes, generators for movie theaters...nothing ever comes to a standstill, power-cuts are so much a part of our life...here it felt like a miniaturized version of The War of the Worlds...I even imagined a meeting of head-honchos at Pentagon taking stock of the situation. I walked back to my office, dejected and tired...and on the way saw something that made me smile...who else but desis wud improvise in these situations...the sardarji who owned the gas station wudnt let something as silly as a power-cut affect his business...so wht if his gas pumps wudnt work...he still had a food mart...and in the good old-fashioned way he wuz noting his sales down on a ledger. I grabbed a muffin, an icecream sandwich and a cold coffee from there and headed back...on the way wuz stopped by countless number of people asking where I had procured my "lunch" and I wuz more than happy to send them in the way of the good sardar.

The lounge and lawns were all crowded and I headed to my car...had my lunch inside...there wuz a woman sleeping in the car next to mine and I wuz immediately tempted by this chance to grab an afernoon nap. I had been lazy all day and wuz just hoping for this kind of reprieve and i dozed off immediately. Walk up with a start around 2:40 and the woman in the neighboring car wuz gone...ran all the way back... there wuz none in sight...all the people had disappeared, no more wailing sirens...my War of the Worlds fancy wuz over...it wuz time to get back to my newly begun war with .Net Windows Forms...


Anonymous said...

Nice one Jabba,

The more I see the people here, the more their paradoxical nature shows. On one hand you would see people biking to work more than 5-10 miles and on the other you would see them waiting for power to come back for the elevators. :)
Just so used to all the amenities around. Pretty sure more than a day's blackout could almost force Mr President out :)

I sometimes miss those 1/2 hour powercuts that we had when we were in TVM. Times when the family would huddle together on the verandah watching the night sky and enjoy the light cold breeze. Hmm... "Ikkarey ninnaal akkarey pacha" probably :)

Anonymous said...

we are so ready for it...ups's for our computers, inverters for our homes, generators for movie theaters...nothing ever comes to a standstill, power-cuts are so much a part of our life...here it felt like a miniaturized version of The War of the Worlds...I like it.

Jiby said...

aliya, turkey...when u talked abt load-shedding made me nostalgic man...that wuz the time my mom, grandmom, sis and me wud huddle together just like u said on the sit-out and chatter endlessly...we finally ended up irritating my dad who decided an invertor wud force us to study...but it broke down soon and he gave up...and soon joined in our kochuvarthamaanams...cant also forget another activity that went with it...clapping our hands for countless mosquitoes!!!

tangy, thanks for the comments. liked your blog...will be a regular visitor henceforth.

Anonymous said...

This was an eye opener! America literally on its knees due to a power cut!!! Hope Al Qaeda does not get ideas !!! :))

And our enterprising sardar... does make you feel proud to be an Indian doesn't he?

Good one. You seem to have enjoyed writing this one.

Jiby said...

oh yeah...i enjoyed keying this post in...felt rather depressed after the previous one...and restless after the seven's tag. Now on i have resolved to write only abt happy times...atleast for the most part!

Sushil said...

I went through a bad time when the power grid had problems on the Eastern side in August 2003. It was miserable, couldnt eat -at home had and electric stove/microwave+ food in the fridge went bad in 3 hours+all restaurants+shops were closed, couldnt go anywhere(gas stations didnt have power), couldnt do anything(no cash), couldnt even go to the bathroom as there was no water ! I couldnt even call my friends as all mobile lines/local land lines were down. I was able to call India though! I really appreciated water when the power finally came back on.

Matter of Choice said...


I come back to see u have written 4 terrific blogs...ok..now i wont be working the entire morning (dont feel like working anyways..its Onam for chrissake!)

how the hell do u manage to write so many great posts in such short times!!!. u sure u wouldnt want a career switch into writing??

anyway very very interesting post. Especially the comparison on how life goes on smoothly in India when power cut happens while it comes to a standstill out there. And the Sardarji makes me proud to be an Indian :). Cant imagine someone closing their shops jez coz their cash drawers wont work!. Atta boy sardar. he must have made a killing!.


Jiby said...

sushil, wht u wrote made me think that only asia and africa stand a fair chance of survival if modern civilization as we know of it were to end.

anish, i've been lazy too at work this whole week...onathinte edayil puttu kachavadam paadillannu paranjaal ee sayippanmaarke manassilaakumo! wuz surprised myself that i penned down 4 posts in a week... sometimes it takes a week or two for the literary muse to come revisiting...this time i think it wuz a case of pent-up nervous energy lookin for an outlet.

Anonymous said...

Jiby, i thought you'd find this interesting, i read it somewhere:

Inches of rain in New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina - 18
Inches of rain in Mumbai - 37.1

Population of New Orleans - 484,674
Population of Mumbai - 12,622,500

Deaths in New Orleans within 48 hours of Katrina - 100
Deaths in Mumbai within 48 hours of rain - 37

Number of people to be evacuated in New Orleans - ENTIRE CITY
Number of people evacuated in Mumbai - 10,000

Cases of shooting and violence in New Orleans - Countless
Cases of shooting and violence in Mumbai - NONE

Time taken for US army to reach New Orleans – 48 hours
Time taken for Indian army and navy to reach Mumbai – 12 hours

Status 48 hours later - New Orleans is still waiting for relief, army and electricity
Status 48 hours later - Mumbai is back on its feet and business is as usual

CNN says India is making a $5 million donation for Katrina relief.

Jiby said...

yaar bipin...i knew u'd leave a comment for this one and thats why i called my other bipin his nickname, india is doing well...no doubt...imagine tera philly tak katrina aageya tho...wht wud u have done...ghetto beta vaapas LA aajao!

Sujith said...

its a normal power-cut as it happens in India but the americans call it with a demo name, "BLACK-OUT".. he he.. in the american way!! :-))