God Said, Let There Be Light- But This Is Pune, Who Cares!

Power Cuts
Image used for representation only

From Our Archives: Second In A Six Part Light-hearted Look At Our City’s Infrastructure Peeves:

While this was originally published close to 24 months ago, nothing has really changed in the city and the significance of these peeves have only grown further. We are thus taking the liberty of replaying this  popular series for our readers.

Adventures of the Dark Kind…

I was all of 10, when my mother decided to take me off school for a year. She was keen I accompany her to our ancestral village In Kerala. One of her many experiments, she went about getting me to learn carpentry, oil extraction, farming (tilling and driving the tractor included) and work with the goldsmith.

This was probably the best phase of my life for I learnt so much from the simplest of individuals in the village. Each day came with a fresh experience and the clean village air to breathe.

What fascinated me however were the innumerable kinds of oil lamps everyone used.

So we had kerosene lamps and lanterns which needed to be pressurised before they got to work. These were called Petromax. I learnt much later that this was a brand name for a pressurised paraffin/ kerosene lamp.

But, bright light also meant attracting every possible insect in the vicinity. And it was worse because you could actually see everything flying around.

Much like being caught in an insect swamp with a torch light! It’s a wonder actually that I didn’t turn into an entomologist after all those flying encounters I had.

People were sensible then. Everyone owned oil lamps in various sizes and shapes; From ones with handles and carrying straps, right down to tiny ones that served as night lamps. Surprisingly, they had this amazing capability of working for hours together.

They never failed, had little knob-dimmers and unleashed a nice woody aroma when they burnt. Coming to think of it, I suspect some mildly charred insects also contributed to this earthy aroma.

Yes, we also read under those lamps each night. Both my mother and myself were voracious readers.. She’s gone and I read less now.

Life moved on and we went back to the city of Mumbai and evolved thereafter into the proverbial ‘Great Indian Disconnected Family’ with each one of us going about our lives with military regimen.

No oil lamps, no woody aroma, no clean air to breathe; Just the heady recklessness of the city and its people.

I always wanted to show my children an oil lamp from those times and explain its simple mechanics to them, but never got one of that kind. Today, we have wonderful looking bright, power-efficient LED lighting and lights that can blind anything that goes by.

Living room lights, bedroom lights, bathroom lights, bedside lights, flood lights, and more. Its interesting how all these things need one basic input though, and thats power.

My gorgeous city resplendent with all this paraphernalia, is now burgeoning with brightly lit factories, hotels, flats and houses and yet failing in providing the basics like steady power. For the past few months, power outages and failures have been omnipresent with amazing regularity. There isn’t a given day when power hasn’t failed.

Yes, we have inverters and rechargeable lamps and all these gadgets but still miss the point. All these fail when the authorities decide to take their own time to get it back on.

Their phone lines, read MSEDCL, are of course splendid and have the immense capability of being ‘busy’ right through the power cut.

This ‘busy’ tone is incidentally affectionately called ‘off the hook’ in our city. The moment you have your power back, you can be rest assured your call will be answered most politely. Just chill and hang in there.

For those of you who have forgotten, I stay in Pisoli (I remember how telling my brother that we were going to this place called Pisoli and his instant reaction was “Oh, really, how long is your flight?”) and while this sounds almost like a remote village in the dense jungles of Denkali, it is actually pretty much in the city of Pune.

Quaint place this is. There are virtually no landlines since the BSNL hasn’t laid fresh cables here in over 6 years, no water supply as the authorities don’t have enough to pass on to houses after the villages are served, and yes we use septic tanks. No sewage lines either.

Don’t look so shocked, This is our city, Pune, IT Hub and Smart City, Circa 2018!

It can’t get smarter, can it? How do the authorities and the powers that are, have the audacity to shout from roof tops on how great they have made this place, when basic infrastructure is failing? Different matter that sweet nothing is being done about it either..

Mind you, I am not as dumb as I look. I have decided to buy oil lamps of all sizes and shapes. Cooking oil is always available at home. I won’t be caught napping on this. So don’t get funny with me, MSEDCL.

My life will go on and well, despite backaches, lack of landlines and atrocious power breaks. Mind it!
#The views expressed in this are the authors and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
Jaisurya Das

Jaisurya Das

The industry affectionately calls him a Marketing Maverick; Known to be brutally candid with his writing as much as everything else, Jd is a much respected media and brand commentator whose prolific writing sees no boundaries.

Jd also consults in Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing, both of which are integral to his brand interventions.
Jaisurya Das