Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bring on the darkness!

Summer is here! Bringing with it, the inevitable power-cuts. A power-cut during the day is simply a nuisance. But power-cuts at night have always been an event, for as long as I remember!

Age 5 - We lived in a colony with lots of kids. Lots of screaming just as the lights went out, and everybody assembles to play hide and seek. Terrified as I am of imaginary creepy-crawlies in the dark, I avoid that game where I will have to hide in nooks and crannies - what if a giant tarantula lived in there?! I run home and busy myself in bugging my kid sister, or just get in everybody's way until my father devises some cool games to keep me occupied. And I laugh and play until the lights come back. Then I scream..."Nooooooooo lets switch off the lights again!"

Age 6 - My father entertains me with shadow figures that he makes using his hands. He performs an entire story, complete with dialogues and sound effects. I watch fascinated, and try my hand (pun not intended) at it, but succeed in getting only a little yapping shadow puppy on the wall.

Age 7 - I am a regular little bookworm. You can always spot me with my nose in a book. When the lights go out, I just pull my chair close to the candle and continue reading. No amount of coaxing by my parents will tear me away from my book. Then I go too close to the candle and get a couple of hair on my head burnt by the flame of the candle, and I withdraw, screaming, with the smell of burnt hair in my nostrils.

Age 8 - I have realized that reading in the dark is bad for the eyes. So I just keep my book aside when the lights go out, and go out and play running and catching in the dark. Or I play word-building with my parents. If some of my friends dropped by, we play Antakshari or play some games which involve very silly songs and lots of hand-clapping. ;)

Age 9 - I sit around with the other kids and exchange ghost stories. There are half a dozen tamarind trees in our colony, and these apparently house ghosts. We dare each other to walk under the tamarind trees. If a slightly reckless soul steps forward to take up the dare, we follow, making eerie, creepy, howling and creaking noises, and the brave kid turns into a bawling kid.

Age 10 - Influenced by the freedom-fighters, I hold my palm at the level of the candle flame but not right above it, and mouth patriotic dialogues. My little sister, watching from one side, looks at me admiringly, probably thinking how brave her Akka is, to hold a palm to a candle. Of course, like a responsible big sister, I make sure that she gets nowhere near the flame.

Age 11 - I spend all my time staring at the candle flame, and comparing it with the diagram of a flame in my science book. My father has taught me how to run my fingers through the candle flame without getting burnt, and I spend hours doing it, not getting bored. Then he teaches me how to light a candle out of the still hot smoke of a just-extinguished candle. I think this is next only to magic, and blow out and light candles until the table becomes a mess of wax much to my mother's exasperation.

Age 13 - My friends and I take walks around the colony, or sit somewhere and just chat. We whisper secrets to each other and wonder about the mysteries of life. We comment on the guys, and giggle uncontrollably. We look up at the sky and try to identify the constellations. Or count the stars. Or hope to see a shooting star. Horses were needed to drag us home.

Age 15 - Exam time. Just curse the electricity board and continue studying with the aid of an emergency lamp.

Age 17 - My sister and I are into serious singing. The moment the lights go out, left with no alternative, i.e. no books and no TV, we automatically pick up the Tanpura, tune it and start singing. The deep resonant twanging of the Tanpura. Our clear voices in perfect harmony with it soar through the darkness. We revel in the sound of our own voices in the silence. My mother, half-ground chutney in the mixer forgotten, just sits and listen to us, probably thanking the darkness for hiding her tears of joy at hearing us sing.

Age 20 and after - Quiet moments on the terrace or balcony, alone. Breathing the crisp night air. Looking at the moon.
Or precious moments with parents. A mat on the terrace floor, lying on it, with my head on my mother's lap, looking at the sky. Serious discussions underway, about the future.
Quiet conversations with my sister. About life, love, friends, hopes and dreams. Spontaneously bursting into song.
Or just sitting with eyes closed listening to my mother hum, or my father play plaintive notes on his Hawaiian guitar.

Yesterday - A lovely walk. After dinner, Just sit and talk with S. Slip into a comfortable silence. Enjoy the peace and happiness that comes with being together and doing nothing. Listen to the silence of the night.

Rather strange, isn't it? Power cuts have caused loads of misery and inconvenience, but if I think back, all I remember are the happy moments!


Anonymous said...

lopeless!! ;-D
Too good :-)

Sangita said...

Hey that was good.Brought back my own memories.we enjoyed powercuts like a festive occasion..always a welcome treat

Anonymous said...

singing was always the answer. now we have an emergency lamp and generators, so no more power-cut-fun :))

thoughtraker, formerly known as ano (not to be confused with anon!) :)

Akshay said...

12 yrs and below power cuts are great excuses to quit studying and get out of th house to play with friends.
but gone are those days......
now at 16 no friends, all have gone away for studies.
dramatic isn't it?;)

Rajit said...

Happiness despite the shortcomings...well, this is how we Indians have come out as the happiest lot in the whole world... :D

chitra said...

There is something very comforting about darkness, silence and contentment :) !

Shruthi said...

Anon: Heh heh ;) thank you! Only one person says lopeless ;) so you could have as well left ur name :D

Sangita: Thanks! :) Oh yes, festive indeed!

Ano: ROFL at the description! :)
Oh yeahh emergency lamps spoilt all the candle fun, and now generators - our kids won't know what fun power cuts are! ;)

Akshay: Yeah! If you notice, in my post too, there was always a mention of friends... and then suddenly no friends. They would be around, but busy studying or something like that, power cut notwithstanding!

Rajit: :) Yes I remember reading some such theory, that Indians are the happiest people in the world. Is there a lesson there for the rest of the world? :O

Shruthi said...

Chitra: Yes :) But not everybody feels that way, you know! You need to be happy with yourself for that ;)

Anitha said...

You have given me lots of ideas as to how I can spend my time with my kids during power cut. :)

Thanks Shruthi ....

Nirwa said...

I am not sure if you or anyone here will get it.. but still..

Andhera Kayam Rahe! :)

Nice post! :)

We don't have major power cuts here.. (mainly because here the electricity board is privatized) but whenever we get, we usually sit in the porch - my mom, dad, didi (when she was unmarried) and I - and discuss anything and everything under the sky! :)

Keep bloggin! :)


Shruthi said...

Anitha: Cool! Glad I could be of help :D

Nirwa: Of course! The evil guy in Shaktimaan :D. See? That proves with what delight I read that funny Shaktimaan post of yours :D

Ajith said...

Shruthi.. you brought nostalgic memories back..now I am in Dubai.. and no power cuts here (god help better not orwe will be cooked). Wonderful the range of subjects you think of and the way you prsent it..It was nice to read..keep it up.

Manasi said...

Lovey post. :) I remember even having a candle light dinner for my Bday! :)Really made me nostalgic!!

Anonymous said...

Age : 25
Date : Aug 15 2003
Place: New York

Power went off in the evening. When it did not return after few seconds, there was total panic in the building.
People were there on streets in no time and there was no transport. I had to take a ferry to cross to other side. walked all the way to ferry and with great difficulty caught a ferry to somewhere...plan was to cross the river first no matter where ferry takes us. then started the ordeal of getting a bus to go home. no buses for a long time. no water anywhere. i asked for water from a person and she refused to part any. so thristy and tired...finally caught a bus to somewhere else and walked for a long time to reach home at 1am in the morning. some 8-9 hrs trip instead usual 1 hr. Ppl were so unfriendly. Ordeal did not stop there. No power in building means no water. morning went to office for nature calls ;) thankfully there was water in office rest rooms!
How many times have we seen Southern grid going kaput in India? how many times have we seen ppl giving water? i cant remember one instance where i was refused water in India - not a bottle remember, just a sip. How many times have we seen ppl crying/ screaming just because power went off?
So disgusted with the whole thing that day.
No wonder I keep repeating
East or West, India is the best :)

I digressed , so what !!!

Raj said...


Even i remember all those times when we used to play for hours and there was no studying owing to log power cuts.

Shruthi said...

Ajith: Thank you :))

Manasi: Thanks :) Yes! I remembered later that I forgot to mention candlelight dinners - we had those at home long before I realized that candlelight dinners were associated with romantic dates! :)

Anon: Wow! A digression, but what an interesting one!
Incidentally, I remember that the first "Friends" episode i happened to watch was one in which there was a power outage in New York!

Shruthi said...

Raj: Thanks! Yes, but these times did not last long. With the threat of board exams, we had to study no matter what! No power? Get an emergency lamp, but study!
Aaah for those carefree days!

Blogging One's Own Trinkets said...

There are so many good, young writers - I guess you are young - as the blogs have revealed. But, why don't I find them in my town? I have a need for them.

rajamet said...

You made me dream about my childhood days!!! :)

chitra said...


Good one, this. It got me thinking as to how i related to power-cuts through my growing years.Now ?? I dont have one :((. I used to brag to my family that I havent seen a micro sec of powercut for the last 3 years here in UK, now i feel i miss them! I surely do. Thanks for showing me the brighter side of power-cuts ( pun unitended).
BTW Love you for reminding me of the times WE spent in the township during power-cuts. I cherish those memories dearly.

Shruthi said...

Blogging.... I am sure you will find someone in your town through the blogosphere... which is your town?

Rajamet: And.. ummm.. that's a good thing, I hope? ;)

Chitra: Hey Chitra... I knew you would like this ;) Of course, there are a million memories I haven't included in here, but I am sure, reading this, those memories would have automatically come back to you!

Sachin said...

Nice one, Shruthi!!! I especially like the way you have described power-cuts through different ages. For me, power-cuts have always meant something different; a time when your own home of which you know each and every corner looked so different and well.....unknown in the dark. But it was always a time for fun, and doing stuff which we would never dream of doing otherwise. Something like trying to catch sight of a glow-worm suddenly letting off that bright pin prick of light in the otherwise uniform black!!!

Also would like to mention Anon's(from NY)comment; isn't it funny how people there give such ordinary hurdles such as power outages the kind of importance that a land-slide or typhoon would get elsewhere. Just goes to show how resilient they can be!


brahmachari107 said...

That was wonderful ! Good to read and wish I were young again

Prashanth M said...

Wonderful write-up!!! took me back to my childhooddays :)

Shruthi said...

Sachin: Thanks for your comment! :) Actually I remember being fascinated by fireflies too! :)

Brahmachari, Prashanth: Thanks :)

Sunil said...

Pat pat pat, on tha back !!
thanks for the smile i had on my face while i read your post.

Shruthi said...

Sunil: So glad you liked it :)

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