It was a busy Saturday, and I did not realise that it was Earth Hour until I came back home in the evening and switched on the television. There it was, on news channels, anchors sitting in air-conditioner cooled studios, going on and on again, telling to switch off at least one light for one hour today.
My wife did not quite understand what this Earth Hour thing was. And I did not want to explain it to her myself. She would not understand the language which I explain. So I had to Google it down on her smart phone and asked her to read and self understand. This was it from Wikipedia:
“Earth Hour is a worldwide event organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and held towards the end of March annually, encouraging households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour to raise awareness about the need to take action on climate change. The event, conceived by WWF and Leo Burnett, first took place in 2007, when 2.2 million residents of Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights. Following Sydney’s lead, many other cities around the world adopted the event in 2008. Earth Hour 2013 is being held on March 23, 2013 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during participants’ local time”
She said – “Oh that’s a good idea. But would these guys in the TV studio too switch off those lights and stop transmission from 8:30 to 9:30. Please, let them do that. You’re watching these stupid news channels, and that make me miss my Serials”
I sighed. There was not much use explaining these things to her. For a long time, for my grandmother, mother and wife, news channels; be it Malayalam, Hindi or English; had been baddies who would always make them let pass their regular dose of soap operas.
But on second thoughts, what she said had a point. Those were guys, sitting in Studios with A/C and tonnes of light and bulbs, maybe consuming whole lot of electricity that could feed a full village somewhere in India, and lecturing on us to switch off our lights and fans and burn in the hot and humid summer evenings.
I told her – “Yeah! For once, you have a point”
She blushed. “Not one point. I have more”
“What?” – I asked, a bit confused and rattled, that she has started thinking on matters of international concern.
“No point telling you. You men don’t listen to our views. Find out for yourself if you want to” – the reply was quite authoritative and had a tone of command in it, maybe taking advantage of my few seconds of confusion over her sudden interest in world matters.
She went off to the kitchen, looking to prepare something for dinner. I sat down on the sofa, and just started pondering and thinking Earth Hour.
It was just around half past eight, and there was another fifteen minutes for this year’s Earth Hour to begin. I picked the day’s Mathrubhuminewspaper to read the news I had missed in the morning. Prominent news was that the SSLC exams of the Kerala Board had ended yesterday.
“Fuck, this means that power cuts will be back again today”
For those alien to Kerala, we have something called power cuts and load shedding here.
Means, every day, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) gives us a dose of current free period, to cut down on electricity usage in times of shortage. Mind you, this is for a state that receives awesome rainfall across three seasons every year, and we depend on water sources for electricity. Don’t know how, but when it comes to manufacture of electricity, we never have enough water in our dams.
Due to the SSLC exams, the power cuts and load shedding were put on hold and it would be starting back soon.
I was on twitter too, and this thought was instantly put down in 140 characters: “Earth Hour is celebrated every day in Kerala. Thanks to KSEB power cuts. We don’t need a separate day for it”
Not finished with this tweet, the lights went off. Yes, the power cuts have started off again, and for the next half an hour, I was destined to see life as it was back in the older generations, except that I had my Blackberry mobile for company. For the next half and hour, it was boring, hot and tiring interlude, that is quite common in most of the Kerala homes during summers.
And as usual, the power was back exactly after 30 minutes. Don’t know how it happens. But these KSEB guys are dot on time when it comes to time keeping – 3o minutes, not a second more, not a second less.
This made me feel proud of KSEB. How much they care for the earth and the environment! They are the most eco-friendly government department in the whole of India. Because of them, the Earth Hour is celebrated in every nook and corner of Kerala, be it the common man’s house or a minister’s bungalow, no matter what the season it is, monsoon, winter or summer. They find one reason or the other to switch off.
They deserve a standing ovation.
(Written in the heat of the moment, immediately after the end of yet another power cut in the middle of the night)