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Load Shedding: O' My Darling!
Nepalese are dancing to the tune of the load shedding, 16 hours a day
Bhuwan Thapaliya (Bhuwan)     Print Article 
Published 2009-03-31 14:59 (KST)   
Whenever two Nepalese meet these days, load shedding (rolling blackouts, when electricity supply can't keep up with demand) is the first topic of their conversation. And why wouldn't it be, after all Nepalese are dancing to the tune of the load shedding, 16 hours a day.

My new wife, normally a quiet person, who speaks only when spoken to, teased me a week ago. "I brought load shedding as a dowry," she said.

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I laughed out loud and satirically thanked her for gifting me the darkness -- the darkness(the dowry of our failed energy policy) with which I have formed a powerful bond of solidarity.

We sat in silence for few moments, each lost in our own thoughts. I said nothing but just kept on staring at the over head sky bulb with numbness in my eyes. My wife got irritated and went to the kitchen to help my mother there.

I regained momentum after a while and then as usual I flipped the morning newspapers, one after another.

Regular doses were there to make one's day miserable in the midst of the ongoing worst global financial crisis since the 1930s. I threw the papers on the nearby table, and then headed to my room and sat down on the couch thinking about the load - shedding and the future of our country.

Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, our finance minister not long ago stated that Nepal needs a frog like jumping economy. He was dead right but I don't know why he used the word, "Frog."

Instead of frog he could have said anything, rabbit, horse, deer etc. But our wise minister even after knowing that, "No matter how high the frog jumps, it cannot get out of the well," used it as a metaphor.

He is a wise man, so there must be a message behind this metaphor. Perhaps, time will decode it or perhaps it will never.

As I lay down in the sofa, secure in the luxury of a city, an image of medieval Nepal dances before me. Much more than the darkness, her dependency on foreign debt and her dependency on remittance haunted me.

Around 200 million people (3 percent of the global population) now live outside their homelands in search of better future but their future prospect looks gloomy. Many Nepalese are in this group of 200 million.

A year ago, the job of the Nepalese working abroad was secure and the future prospect looked good, but the eruption of the worst financial crisis has spread anxiety.

Furthermore, The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in its latest report warned that the xenophobia is on the rise as job competition has increased between nationals and migrants. This report gave me a chill and now I worry about the safety of Nepalese working abroad.

"Late as usual," yelled my mum from the kitchen.

I hurried up to the kitchen, invented a facile excuse, and took the vacant seat next to her. My wife glanced at me shyly from the end of the table, a blush of pleasure pilfering into her cheeks. I hurriedly finished my food as it was already 9:30 a.m.

Safa Tempo
After a while, I got ready and rushed to my work in a Safa Tempo.

In the Tempo, everyday whistles a chilled exhaustion of human struggle for survival. The smell of a burnt human hope and the unwashed dreams reeking of old sweat and manure mingles with the wafts of the sweet smelling French perfumes and the burning human desires. Safa Tempo, a metaphor of survival.

And today it was no exception either.

I overheard two middle aged couples arguing in the Tempo. The wife was pressing her man to buy a motorcycle. I found a part of me in the husband's numbness. Any other day, their conversation would have made me gloomier but today their conversation meant nothing to me.

I have my own reason of being happy. I am happy because last night I read somewhere that Americans used public transportation an estimated 10.7 billion times in 2008, the highest level of ridership in 52 years.

"Recession is not absolutely bad; it has some novel uniqueness too," murmuring this I got off the Tempo and headed to my workplace.

There too darkness was waiting for me as if it is my soul mate. There was no light and the inverter was not working. Disgusted was I, but I had no other option rather than to wait for the light.

I ordered a cup of coffee and pondered over my wife's early morning dose about the load shedding.

Every time the thought of my wife comes I am shy. I don't know why. I overcame my shyness and analyzed load shedding from another angle. For a newly married couple, load shedding is a blessing in disguise. It is so because most of the couples like me are using the darkness to spark their love life.

After all load shedding is not boring, if you are a newlywed and you have someone to talk and laugh with you till midnight.

Earlier I used to sleep around 11 p.m. but due to the load shedding, I am hitting the bed as early as 8:30 p.m., though I know that it is not economical to go to bed early to save candles if the results are twins.

The probability is high because the economics of sleeponomics is very simple: Early bed time means more time with wife, and more time with wife means more time for romance. And more time for romance means more time for the creation of the future generation.

But at times, I feel like a passenger in a bus that has been hijacked by the driver. But yet I complain not. I believe in the adage: the people get the government they deserve.

But looking forward from here, the point of abysmal load shedding, there are a number of exciting opportunities in Nepal, starting with hydro power. Am I sounding nuts? In Nepal, optimism has been a scare commodity but time has come perhaps to be optimistic.

Finally, Lenin once said that Communism would result from Soviet power plus the electrification of the country. Are our Communist leaders listening?

©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Bhuwan Thapaliya

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