Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Life in the Age of Generators

I remember one of the first times that the electricity went out. I was in a meeting in the office of an official from Salahaddin University in Arbil. He was interested in funding for a range of University initiatives, while my colleagues were curious about the University's honey-making and bee-rearing facilities. When the power stopped, I almost commented on how much the situation had changed. The air conditioning had ceased its humming and the television stopped playing a Kurdish children's program. Everyone else in the meeting continued as if nothing happened.

Now, six or seven months later, if the electricity goes out I seldom notice. When I'm on the computer, it doesn't make a difference, and I never watch TV too intently to be bothered when it stops. Conversations in a suddenly dark bar continue unimpeded. The electricity typically cuts out every other hour, and the generators restore full capacity in less than a minute. Some of my coworkers find the constant buzz of the generators annoying, but I find the neighbor's chickens more bothersome. If I fall asleep with the television blaring, the inevitable outage serves as my sleep button.


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