Reading Martin Chuzzlewitt on my iPad during the blackout. The light is not the most flattering.
I’m trying to be philosophical about the electrical cuts. It is a way of life here in Tajikistan. We had them in Dushanbe. We now have them in Khujand. But they are annoying.
One of the positive aspects of our apartment was that it was in the center of town and so had fewer power outages than elsewhere in town. That is true in that there are parts of town that on a regular basis do not have electricity during certain hours of the day (or more accurately, only have electricity during certain hours of the day). But recently, the central area of town has been doing without electricity, and what makes this annoying is its apparent randomness.
We spent about a week with electricity being cut at midnight or shortly thereafter, for anywhere from two to five hours. This was not horrible, just a mild inconvenience as it forced David to bed sooner than he would like and we had to be sure to be home from social events in time to get our showers in. (Without electricity, the water flows, but the bathroom is pitch black with no electricity and no hot water, even in the daylight.)
Then we started having power cut for a couple of hours in the late morning or early afternoon, and then again at night – sometimes as early as 7, sometimes as late as midnight.
Today electricity cut out about 11 am and returned at 6 pm. At 4:30, David gave up because he was too cold to stay in the apartment (temperatures had dropped a lot from the day before), so he went to the Grand Hotel restaurant (which has a generator) and got some coffee, read and warmed up. We were going to head back there at 6 for dinner, but the power returned just then. But then it turned off again at 9:15 to return at 9:45. Trying to figure out when it is safe to cook (we have an electric stove and oven, which takes a long time to heat) and when it is safe to do laundry (that takes 90 minutes at least) is a challenge.
And here’s the other annoyance. When the electricity is cut during the day, we use the computer and iPad sparingly in order to not use up their battery charge. As we found out in Dushanbe, if you have no electricity at night, the only mediated entertainment is reading books on the computers. It would be frightful to have lights go out at 7 in the evening for example and then not come back on for four hours, unless you have your computer screen from which to read.
As I wrote in my journal this afternoon – the whims of the electric current have become the organizing principles of our lives.
Here’s the irony. A block away is a square on the main street decorated for the big holiday coming up this week, Navruz. For about two weeks, during the day, it is sucking up electricity by amplifying live music during the lunch hour or blasting piped music and words through loudspeakers from about 10 until 5. Small, personal sacrifices for the good of the whole?
I wrote this last night and this morning I received an email from a friend who sent an Asia Plus article translated through Google (so a little hard to slog through), which essentially said the problems with electricity around the entire country is a complex problem. Low water in the reservoirs that produce the hydroelectric power is the official reason, but other possibilities might be that a lot of the electricity is being sold to Afghanistan or possibly just ineptitude. But what the article did remind me of is that there are lots of Tajiks living in villages who only have water 2-5 hours a day, so we may be frustrated, but not desperate.