• Run our appliances
• Recharge our mobile phones, batteries
• Run our geyser
• Run our microwave
• Run our mixer grinder
• Charge my camera
• Watch TV / DVD player
• Run our fans
• Run our refrigerator
And, above all, run the almighty computer and its UPS battery. We depend on the internet – at least I do – for my work and other little happy social media activities.
Of course we find candlelight romantic. But besides love and fresh air, we also need to eat to survive. And I do enjoy my flavoured cheese.
Consequently, there’s a bit of a maniacal rush in trying to make the best use of the hours when we do have power. Otherwise, my already slightly ADHD-esque state is getting worse with all the things going around in my head via my to-do list. I like to keep my commitments to my clients. And I enjoy their trust. But it can be pretty frustrating when the UPS does not get enough time to charge, which means I alternate between my laptop and desktop computer, leveraging the batteries.
As it is, in summer, we try our bit to go green by adjusting our bath time to a part of the day when the tap water is naturally hot. We try and eat stuff that doesn’t need cooking like salads. I make stuff that does not need the mixer grinder. And when I cook, I store the stuff in a hot pack to keep it warm to avoid reheating.
And of course, I avoid using the lift for fear of getting stuck in it in the event of a power cut en route…and so on. My son finishes school work when there’s daylight to avoid candlelight/emergency lamp slogging.
Not that we see a reduction in our electricity bill. I wonder how that is. But someone once told me that the electricians sit in a cafe and fill in the bill details based on our past history of usage. Hmm. One thing I do appreciate is – whenever there is an unscheduled power cut and I call the electricity department, there’s always someone there to answer me very courteously, even friendly, and tells me what is happening. Does that make it better? It does, for me.
Well – what can I say?
• I get to catch up on my reading – which is nice
• I get to clear up all those off-line chores that keep getting put off – which is great
• I spend even more quality time with my folks – which is wonderful
Attitude matters so much, as does perspective.
Am I bothered by the lack of things? Not at all. And never will be. I have a choice. To be happy.
I find it amusing to think that, as a child of the sixties, I grew up with:
- no fans – came much later –we had one table fan for the entire household
- no refrigerator – bought our first frig in 1983. Cold water was such a novelty!
- no TV – got our first TV in 1982 to watch the Asiad Games. Black and white model with that rolling shutter. Only one channel that aired a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. We waited so eagerly. We even had a neighbour who specially dressed to watch tv in our house, because she believed the folks on tv could see her.
- no telephone got my first connection in – hold your breath – 1995. What did we do before that? We used public phones to make local calls. We were connect at our place of work since we could be reached at those numbers. When we had personal long distance calls to make, we waited until 10 pm to go and wait at the public booth, since there was half-rate after that and if we made our calls after 11, it was quarter-charge. Inconvenient, but well – it was amazing to lift a receiver, dial and hear the voice we wanted in our ear. This was when direct dialling was possible. But before this, we had to book “trunk calls”by calling the telephone department, receive a reference number and wait for hours to be connected.
The only real gadgets we had at home was the pressure cooker and our gas stove. Everything else was a “from scratch” situation. If we wanted to grind something into paste for cooking, we used the mortar/pestle. It was a luxury to have one of these embedded at the end of our kitchen counter.
Normal part of life. And grinding the lentils to make the batter for idli and dosa? We used this instead of a mixer grinder. To make enough for a family of 9 and regular visitors, it would take a couple of hours with a zealous person rotating the stone. We all took turns to do it. What fun it was! We were perfectly happy.
I got my first vehicle, a moped in 1987. Today I ride a scooter. I still don’t have a car, because we don’t need one for our lifestyle. Also, we live within walking distance of everything we need. There’s public transport for longer distances.
There was no computer and therefore no email until I bought my own computer in 2001. We used it sparingly because dial-up internet was exorbitant. It is great to have email / social media and all the other stuff that makes the world such a small place where everything seems so easy to access.
But in spite of technology, we still enjoy writing letters and sending greeting cards. I’d rather pick up the phone and talk than email or IM. There’s nothing like meeting friends face to face, giving a real hug, and seeing someone’s face light up with a smile. And that is why I value relationships and strongly believe that people will always rule over technology, no matter what.
I love that the internet lets us make so many connections and meet people we could never dream of meeting otherwise; yet, I don’t think I’ll miss Facebook or Twitter if they closed down tomorrow. I still don’t use my smartphone to check email or do any of those clever things it is capable of.
Maybe it is because I grew up without a lot of things we take for granted now. Maybe it is because my Grandmother was thrifty and believed in the waste-not want-not policy. Maybe it is because we believed we should only accumulate what we “need” and not what we “would like” or “covet”. Or maybe because my Mom taught me, by example, that people are our priority.
Or maybe I am just old-fashioned.
I am working on simplifying my life.
Because finally, when we go, we take nothing with us except feelings.
I am counting my treasures and blessings in the form of friends, relationships and family.