Friday, May 30, 2008

British Blackouts and the Electric Roza

It's always entertaining to see the 1st world react to a 3rd world type incident. It seems that the UK had some massive power failures and blackouts on the 27th of May:

"After two power stations suddenly shut down within minutes of one another at midday, nine “generating units” also shut, and at least four other power stations suffered failures throughout the day."

"Operations were cancelled, people were stuck in lifts, traffic lights failed and fire engines were sent out on false alarms. Householders were unable to use any appliances or make phone calls..."
Boo frikkin Hoo.

I'm going to suggest that the West adopt and adapt the concept of 'fasting' from Islam. In fact, I propose specifically that Power cuts become the new 1st world 'roza', instilling patience and fortitude in fat TV addicted Americans everywhere, and engendering some much needed empathy for people in other parts of the world who have to live with KESC and the planets most infuriatingly inefficient electricity distribution grid. I propose that all North American and European households go without power from dawn till dusk, Muslim style. At sunset, they can power up to their hearts content, and switch on the mains to an orgy of television, e-mail, internet porn, microwaving, Plastation/Xbox/Wii, Youtube, Facebook and mobile phone charging. Electric Jalebis if you will.

I would also propose that they commence this new tradition only after I have left London and returned to my humble, bubble enclave home in Karachi, and have activated my extremely noisy, socially abrasive and potent generator. On a related note, readers please take notice of the website known as 'DHA Living' and be appalled and amused in equal measure at the heading which reads:

DHA Living

'Life in the Bubble'

That heading is then followed by the image reproduced below, of two burgers literally floating around in a bubble with an American style trash can full of crap outside the bubble on some imaginary grassy pavement on a road known as "Khayabane - DHA"

When was the last time anyone saw a grassy pavement, even in Defence? What lies. And what self respecting Pakistani will use an American style trash can when there is a perfectly good empty plot next door that belongs to some anonymous Memon who probably deserves to have your disgusting rotten aloo chilkas and keema thrown all over his property? What will these desi burgers think of next?

I can't answer that question. But I can tell you what the 'burgers in a bubble' at Times Online thought of next after witnessing Britain's 'society-shattering' power cuts: A top ten list, of stuff to do when the power cuts. The applicability of this list to the resident Karachi-ite is something that I will now consider, in my capacity as an objective and slightly annoyed Pakistani. I have reproduced it in full below, with my comments in italics.

10 Bring those little solar-powered lights in from the garden

No point letting the foxes get all the benefit of our space-age technology. If you've thought ahead and bought one of those solar-powered iPod chargers (and assuming for one moment that we've had some nice weather) then charge up your iPod. Because you can

Solar powered lights? What the hell kind of an idea is a Solar Powered Light? What the hell is the purpose of a light powered by sunlight? Desi's are too practical to invent such things. We invented UPS. Because only in your decadent West is the power polite enough to go exclusively the daytime.

9 Eat all the ice-cream in the freezer

It'll only melt otherwise. And melted then refrozen ice-cream is horrid. While you're at it, see if there's any beer or white wine in the fridge. They're just not the same warm and whereas, technically, you can re-cool beer you're going to need something to get you through the next few hours

Taubah. Firstly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with ice-cream that has melted into liquid and then re-frozen into congealed ice-cream paste. That is why the ice cream tub was invented (the rectangular cardboard Igloo ice cream packs were completely useless at retaining precious melted ice cream fluid).

Secondly, trust the English to use a blackout as an excuse to get plastered. No self respecting desi above the age of 16 will drink all their beer and white wine just because the powers gone. They leave it in the fridge (which stays cool for at least 6-7 hours). And they will continue to leave it in the fridge thereafter, because really, its for the guests anyway.

8 For that matter eat every biscuit, cake, and piece of fruit in the house

Even if you have a gas oven, there's still no sense in cooking anything. You're in the grip of a drama and it's important to enter into the spirit of the thing.

Shutup. This is why the caricature of a fat, drunken biscuit eating solar-powered-light-having imbecile is so pervasive in the East. "Grip of a Drama"? One slap you deserve. Put down the biscuit, light some candles, and get to making chapatis on your gas hob like everyone else.

7 Wake the kids up

If the power cut happens after the hours of darkness, and let's face it every blackout worthy of the name does, then it's important that you don't deny your offspring the character-building Blitz Spirit experience of being dragged from their bed and having terrifying M.R. James stories read to them by a torch-wielding parent.

It is well established that all fathers use the notion of 'Character Building' as an excuse to torture their children for their own amusement. That notwithstanding, in Pakistan, only a truly selfish bastard would wake the kids for 'Character Building'. If your kids have managed to get to sleep during load shedding, despite the heat and after multiple cold showers in their shorts and t-shirts, then LET THEM SLEEP. A blackout is no time to fulfill your retarded fantasy of being some cereal box dad who wakes up his two sweaty children only to stick a torch in their face and petrify them with stories about jinns and bhoots.

6 Play Snake on your mobile

Yes, it's true that your mobile phone might be the only reliable alarm clock left in the house and that if the outage continues after bedtime there's no reliable means of rousing yourself for work the following morning, but there's no better use of your limited battery power than testing your reflexes against the ubiquitous and addictive Nokia serpent-steering game. Besides, you have got that solar charger haven't you?

Yes. Waste your precious battery on the most useless game known to man. Then feel like a gigantic twat when you need to call the hospital or the office and your phones are dead and your battery's dead, and you don't have the numbers anyway because they were saved on your phone.

5 Think about any elderly or vulnerable neighbours you might have

Pop around and make sure they're alright. Take a flask of tea over if you can. They'll probably know some great old Vera Lynn songs you can sing

Why would you take tea to your neighbors house? That would piss them off like no other, unless your neighbors are stingy and strangely tea-less. Trying to then sing some strange woman's songs would probably add insult to injury.

4 Indulge in a little amateur astronomy

If the power cut is widespread enough it should have a marked effect on the light pollution in your area. Get the whole family out in the street to look at the stars. With any luck someone else in your road will have had the same idea and you can enjoy a rare neighbourly bond as you speculate wildly about the possible duration of the outage

Stars dont exist in Karachi. You'd have to drive to the beach, and even then you can barely make out Venus.

3 Read a book

If you're on your own, you'll find a quiet read by candlelight is a quite distinct experience from the snatched half a chapter on a busy commuter train. If you have any Dickens or Austen in the house, enjoy the classics the way their original readers did

Only AKS would attempt this. The amount of abuse that he would consequently receive from me and Ahsan would deter anyone else from following suit.

2 Do all the sensible things: unplug computers, TVs, Sky boxes etc

After all, power cuts are fun at first but you don't want to be dealing with a blown fuse when everyone else has their power back

Sometimes the power goes for two minutes, comes back and then goes again for three minutes and then comes back. I would love to watch some idiotic biscuit eating Times online author spend his entire day unplugging and plugging all of his household appliances.

1 Have sex

Despite persistent rumours, there was no “Baby Boom" nine months after the great New York Blackout of 1965. Nevertheless, a power cut is a tremendous excuse for an early night, and it's not as if you can really read a book

FINALLY. Something upon which Pakistanis and Westerners can agree upon. Let us revel in the glory of our shared Number One choice of activity!

Also, while theyre may not have been a baby boom in New York, there has been one in Pakistan. In fact, we've grown from 30 million at partition to 160 million to date. I'd submit that this is largley because we don't have electricity, or cable, or any form of game show or reality TV, or parks, or enough Fun-Lands/Cliftons, or bowling alleys or an abundance of cinemas. Combined with our perpetual blackout, the result is that the Number One pastime of the entire country at pretty much all times is conjugal relations. Babies are an annoying byproduct.

I think I have now spent the last of my vitriol for the Times Online. I will now go and watch TV.

Support the Electric Roza!


Ahsan said...

Great post. I remember when a couple of years ago, there was a blackout in New York and everyone (a) first got scared that it was a terrorist attack, and then (b) began a self-congratulatory frenzy for not rioting or behaving like savages. If that's the standard we're using, Karachiites are the most civilized people on earth.

naqiya said...

welcome back nadir!

@ahsan: i remember that blackout. it lasted all of 3 seconds and was on the local news for days after. the west can learn a thing or two about dealing from us karachiites

on a side note: blackout sex sounds like fun

naqiya said...


those of us living/working in the 1st world: do you guys ever get fed fucking up of people complaining about the a/c being too cold or not cold enough all the fucking time? seriously! i worked in a beautiful office last summer, with sky lights and large windows. but people still complained constantly about it being too cold or too hot. whats up with that?

AB said...

Nice post dude. I love no. 3's comment (sorry AKS).

Anonymous said...

'blackout sex' sounds like something that happens after a night of heavy drinking.

Ahsan said...

Either that, or it refers to sex so mind-boggingly good that it assumes a transcendent nature and forces you to pass out.

Ali said...

i'm reading this book called 'the wealth and poverty of nations' by david landes - i have mixed feelings about the book/author so far as it's quite the condescending colonialist mentality. anyway, he attributes all developing countries' rise in conjugal activities to the introduction of factories/plants/machines to replace manual labour especially in rural areas. the idea is that what once took 10 people a week to do, started becoming done in a couple days by one person operating something. the byproduct is a whole lotta fuckin. population growth in rural areas of the developing world.

this does not undermine NB's explanation of lack of recreation and leisure activities, it's just another consideration.
peace, when we meeting NBiz?

rabia said...

If I remember my O Level Pak Studies correctly, the theory about power failure causing overpopulation was actually put forward in Ikram Rabbani's horrible book "An Introduction to Pakistan Studies"

NB said...

hahaha yeah thats where I remember reading about it.

I do in fact steal many of my jokes and original insights from Ikram Rabbani.


I havent actually heard of the idea that industrialization causes population growth. I guess it is possible. Still, i would have thought the pace of life has consequently increased, not decreased (thus leaving less time for whoopee).


Whenever I see the words Charles Dickens, AKS comes to mind.


Man. Dubai was fully air conditioned and boiling outside. But it was SO COLD in each of the buildings. You actually had to wear a sweater indoors. It was genuinely annoying.

Laila said...

haha I can totally imagine Kabir cuddling with Pride and Prejudice in the candlelight just to prove a point!

Anonymous said...

seems like we've been through a lot of terms/euphemisms for sex here, huh?
vocab is fun.

tanh1980 said...

I was reminded of this post when I cam across this latest 'news' of possible UK blackouts in the next 10 years....

UK experts give blackouts warning