Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lights Out!

Rob has alluded in previous posts to the power going out here on a regular basis but I don't know how many of you realize how regular it really is.  The power is turned off for a half hour every day.  Yes, every day. That is the scheduled "out".  It took us awhile to figure it all out, but it goes something like this: Week 1 your power is out from 6 - 6:30 pm every day.  We've been messed up by this one several times since we are often making dinner around that time - out comes the trusty headlamp and the cooking continues in the dark (whilst been eaten alive by mosquitos).  Indians tend to eat later - 8 pm -  so this particular time slot probably isn't too hard on them.  Week 2, power goes out from 6:30 - 7 pm, and so on.  Each week the scheduled out is a half hour later until the final one which is 10 - 10:30 pm.  Then you're back to week 1 again.  Each neighbourhood is on a different schedule.

Then there are the all-too regular, but not predictable, power failures as well. We usually have 3 to 10 of these a week.  Some last 5 or 10 minutes, others last for hours.  You have no idea how dependent you have become on overhead fans until the power is out for 2 hours in the middle of a 35C day!

It tends to get dark here around 7 pm so when the power goes out in the dark, before the boys go to bed, we use that time to play a great game taught to us by our fabulous Bowen neighbour, Brian.  We play Geography.  The first person names a country (we expanded it to include continents, cities and towns...).  The next person says the name of a place that starts with the same letter that the last one ended with - for example: first one says "Athens", second one says "Sweden", third one "Nantucket"  etc.  What's great about this game is that it requires no equipment, not even a pen or paper.  You also don't need to be able to see each other (very handy when the power is out)!  We've used this game on trains, in cars, in airports, at restaurants...  Miles has always been geeky about geography so it was an obvious game for him to play but I was afraid Isaac wouldn't be able to keep up.  But the game is so repetitive that each time we play it Isaac picks up more place names.  He has no idea where the places are but since we're not trying to place them on a map, that is irrelevant. We rarely need to give him hints anymore and now that he is reading, a whole new world (pun intended) has opened up. Of course, if you play Geography too often it can get really, really, repetitive and boring but we save it for those really-need-it-times and it works out well. Watch out for all those names starting and ending in "A" though!  We've also corrupted it horribly to Animalography and Foodography (yes, I know the "ography" part doesn't really work here, it should be "ology"  but that's what the boys started calling them and the names stuck) where we use names of animals or food - both ingredients and finished dishes - instead of places.  We've also used the dark time to make shadow puppets using the headlamp, listen to music or watch a DVD on the laptop (if it's charged) and create oral stories together.

A half hour doesn't seem like a long time but when it happens everyday you become acutely aware of the things we generally take for granted - like how much power we use and how much we are dependent upon it.  You plan your day differently, or maybe it is that it forces you to PLAN your day.  When are you going to cook? When are you going to eat (hard to eat in the dark, we've done it but try to avoid it since you can't see fish bones and things)?  When are you going to wash the dishes (also tricky in the dark), check your email, do yoga (not when the fan isn't working!)?  The power out is a good time to play games, hang with the family and remember why we came here in the first place.  It forces you to slow down at some point every day, and stop doing.  Less doing, more being.

Clap on.  Clap Off.

1 comment:

Murray A said...

Sounds like a great game for those dark Winter afternoon's on Bowen. Oh that's right... we all bought generators 2 years ago....and the power hasn't hardly gone out since!