Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Letters from Egypt: Living in Darkness

Life (or dinner) doesn't stop just because there isn't any power

My Facebook newsfeed is riddled with Game of Thrones posters and spoiler comments, Share to Win posts and for those of you living in Egypt – ceaseless complaints over the chronic power outages.

I understand that most of us are not used to this, but at this point, we’ve all been introduced and many of you should already have plans for the potential outage. In case you don’t, here are some things to consider:

  • Charge all of your devices including mobiles, iPad, Androids, etc. when the power is on, but take a break from the whining over darkness on Facebook and other social media sites. We get it. It’s old. At least come up with a new complaint.
  • Make sure to have lights on hand. I wouldn’t suggest candles in this heat, maybe you want something that exudes less heat so get a flashlight. My phone has the Flashlight app which surprisingly lights up an entire room.
  • When you get hot, instead of complaining take said light from the above point and take a cold shower. Wet your hair. That will last you about 30 minutes or so and most of the power outages in certain neighborhoods are 40 minutes on average (sometimes more, sometimes less).
  • Have activities to do when the power isn’t on such as work on your computer that does not require internet access (or obtain a stick from a service provider of your choice). I prefer to read. It’s the only time that I can’t be bothered with anything else so I make the best of it. Paolo Coelho just released a new book “Manuscript Found in Accra” that Laura from Virgin Megastore told me was brilliant (but then again, isn’t all of his work). For those of you on a budget, you can always look at books from CSA’s library and if all else fails, borrow from a friend.
  • If you have children, make sure that they have several games to play during this time either on rechargeable devices or with enough lighting for coloring, board games, etc. Or even create your own game.
  • Some others have been bar hopping and/or restaurant hopping during power outages, e.g. home power out, stop at nearby dig, power goes out there, move on to the next place, etc. Some restaurants have emergency lamps for each table and continue to provide services (big shout out to Korean restaurant Gaya).
  • You can still cook while the power is off as long as your stove is gas and not electric. Okay so standing over that stove might be hot without an A/C, but just think of it as some bikram *insert some insane hot workout here* class.

Either way, just because the power is out doesn’t mean you can’t be productive or that life has suddenly stopped. And here’s a newsflash, it’s only going to get worse as summer gets more underway. Some of you are acting like spoiled children. You might do well to remember that there are worse off places, including parts of Cairo that do not have electricity OR water.

Special Note on Water Shortages:
You should also prepare for water shortages. Save large water jugs or any other container and keep a few on hand in case of a water shortage which will allow you to still cook or another task that may need water.

So instead of taking to Facebook to complain, plan ahead. It’s not pleasant to suffer these things in the heat or to just disrupt a schedule, but we all have to face it. So deal with it.

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