Today was a different day than the norm here in Espanola, New Mexico. We woke up to beautiful white covered ground and snow falling from the sky. It’s always so magical when the snow comes down and covers everything. The kids jumped out of bed and wanted to go out and play in the winter wonderland (this was our first snow of the season). We got them dressed in their winter ski clothes and they played in the snow for a good while. I normally go out, but today I felt like staying inside. My wife bugged me about "seizing the day" and coming out…. but I guess I was the "scrooge" this morning wanting to stay inside. While they were out I made up some super yummy fresh hot chocolate (my secret recipe, well not really…but it was GOOD!).
When the kids came back inside with "icicle" hands, they were happy to see the dark brown hot chocolate milk to warm them. Narayan happily had one cup, but Charanjeet couldn’t get enough and must have had three cups. Luckily I used honey to sweeten it, so she didn’t have a sugar rush.
A while after we woke up this morning the electricity went out in our house. We didn’t think much of it thinking it would be back soon as it normally does. Narayan was happy since he wasn’t going to have to go to school. We then found out that the power was out in the whole city. I figured it would come back up soon as it normally does if there is ever an outage. For those of you who are in India, I know this is commonplace, but in America this isn’t the case, so we are not always prepared. I was telling Arjan how most stores in india have little generators, so when the power goes out, within a couple of minutes they are back up and running, as if nothing happened, since it is commonplace for the power to go out.
After about 8 hours of no power….the power came back on in the SikhNet office earlier this afternoon (which is in a different part of Espanola) and after typing the above paragraphs I typed the words: "The power is back on at the SikhNet office…" and *poof" the power went out again. My UPS battery for my computer was already pretty much dead so the computer shut off in about 10 seconds, just enough to do a save. I already made use of the non computer time cleaning and organizing the office so there wasn’t much to be done in the office and it was dark now outside.
I couldn’t reach my wife so headed home to check in with the family again. The power was still off in our part of town and it was getting cold. So I got the fireplace going again, lit candles and tried to get as much fire wood as I could dry so that we could stay warm. Our heating system needs electricity so we were without heating all day except for the fireplace, which was lousy because it was poorly designed and spews smoke into the house. I can still smell and feel the smoke in the house. *cough* cough *.
The power just came back on after about 13 hours of being off in the city. I don’t think many people worked around here today. I did think of the people who were probably busy trying to restore the power in the city. It’s one of those jobs that you can’t take a break till you get it fixed. I could relate to this because I have had many of those types of all nighters in the past when SikhNet servers crashed or had serious problems on SikhNet that had to get fixed. You know people are relying on it and can’t just say "I’ll get to it tommorow after I sleep….". In the case here today, it was obviously more serious because it is winter and people were without heat, phone service, etc. and serious stuff can happen when stuff like this happens.
In the bigger scheme of things it’s not a big deal having the power off for a day, though I don’t remember ever having the power off this widespread for this long. It’s interesting thinking back on the day. No TV, computers, electronics, lights, etc. It really changes how you do things and forces you to the basics (kind of like how it was when my car stereo stopped working and I would drive around in silence, noticing things that I didn’t normally hear/see). It is one of those little lessons that shows us how reliant we are on things like electricity and how if one of the "supply chains" goes out (water, food, fuel, electricity, etc) then it can cause major issues.
On one hand it was fun to be rid of all the extra stuff and simplify since we couldn’t work or do the normal things. On the other hand it is reminder of how important it is to be prepared. I remember thinking about this type of thing in previous months with the recession of the USA and other economies and seeing things getting worse. I tried to imagine what would happen if people didn’t have gas, water, electricity or food. In hard times people can do some rash things (riots, violence, anger, etc). It can bring the worst and best out in people.
Just as we take things for granted in our own life (health, eyes, body, etc) we sometimes take the things around us for granted like food, water, electricity, etc. We unconsciously think that it will always be there. Anyways, it’s sometimes nice to have reminders like this to appreciate the things that we have and make sure we are prepared.
During the day, even though the power was out luckily my mobile phone still worked (most of the times). Me and others in town messaged back and forth to see if anyone else had power. It was cool how this little tool can be such a "lifeline". It reminds me of how recently in mumbai people inside the hotels that were attacked by terrorists used twitter messages to give updates and info about what was going on inside. I had no idea what was going on with the power outage here and no one else seemed to know. I didn’t find any other locals twittering about this power outage, but it seemed to be one of those cool tools that would be useful to pass around information in realtime.
We had a nice evening in the dark with candles all over the house and a roaring fire (despite the smoke in the house). It was cozy and nice being in the dark. The kids loved it. It’s like camping, with fires, flash lights, etc. You could actually see the stars with all the lights out :)
The kids are fast asleep now and I’m the only one still up now after a day of "adventures". What can I say but it was a different kind of day for me. Tomorrow will probably back to normal, working in the Sikhnet office and not thinking about electricity, heat, light, etc.
Here are some pictures from tonight as I enjoyed the fire light in the house before the power came back on. Click on them to see larger versions of the pictures.
Arjan meditating at her little altar with little charanjeet kaur watching the candles ( during the power outage)
Eating dinner with candles and fire roaring during the power outage.
Warm and cozy by the fire during the power outage.
We didn’t have electricity, but we did have water and gas, so were able to make some rice and daal.