Sunday 19 January 2014

The Day the Power Left Us

Nothing like a prolonged power blackout to remind you how dependant you are on electricity.  

Yesterday at about 11 am the State of Sabah lost all power. For a place that has frequent outages this one was a doozy - all ten hours.   Seems some issue with a power line in Kota Kinabalu tripped most of the main substations statewide. 

When I was a young lad in Australia many moons ago, I used to get excited about a power outage especially if it occurred at night.  Out would come the candles making the all familiar environment of the house seem strangely unfamiliar; ghost like shadows dancing on the walls to stir the imagination of an impressionable child.   Those days, we were far less reliant on electricity for our daily needs. Apart from lighting, the fridge and the television / radio, very little else ran on electrical power. 

Fast forward to today. 

The first hour without power was more of a nuisance value than anything else.  Living in a hot climate necessitates the use of air conditioning or at the very least an electric fan.  The modern building is predominately concrete, absorbing heat throughout the day, releasing it at night.  In other words, it’s generally hot inside regardless of the weather conditions outside.  Fortunately yesterday was fairly mild due to the preceding weeks' rain.

As the afternoon dragged on, it became apparent this was no ordinary outage.  Up until that time I was using 3G on my phone for the Internet.  Of course we all know modern smart phones may be clever with most things but power consumption is not one of them.  By late afternoon, my battery was almost dead. Disaster, no power equals no telecommunications! 

We all amuse ourselves in many different ways. I suspect these days most activities involve using some sort of power source.  My Achilles heel is the Internet.  I'm an Internet tragic. Not social networking by the way, but information seeking.  No TV for this boy.  Anyway, it didn't  matter, both require a power source.  Lost and hot was my afternoon. 

Offices in town ceased to function due to no computers.  Not all that long ago, give or take a decade, administration workers would have hardly missed a beat.  Everything was kept in files and manually accessed. 

Traffic was chaotic due to no traffic lights.  Cars playing dodgem with each other, no sense of order. He who dares wins.

By evening the full impact was evident.  The hall across the road was conducting a wedding reception. I bet they didn't expect a candlelit dinner.  Very quiet and eery.  Wondered if the bride was thinking whether this was a bad omen or not. You could read a lot into it if you were that way inclined.

By 6.30 we ventured down to the local shopping precinct to get something to eat as we couldn't see in the kitchen.    A few businesses had generators and we're doing a roaring trade. All the banks' ATMs were functioning for the same reason. The local supermarket was packed with people with the car park adjacent over full.  Bees around a lit honey pot.

After returning home and sitting in the dark for another hour or so the power finally came back on.  Up went a cheer from the wedding party across the road and the band immediately started up, amplifier operating at full bore.  After 10 minutes I was wishing the power would be cut again! 

Maybe only maybe life would be a heck of a lot simpler without our electrical appliances, but no, I jest, 10 hours without was enough to convince me that I'm a 21st. century being through and through.  

The Internet for some strange reason failed to realise the power had returned and refused to work until the next day. Ahhhhh!  Life is way too short without the net.

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