Mustafeez Sheikh, a Lahore-based journalist, checks the load-shedding timetable in the daily newspaper notice and then checks the CNG schedule. He hurriedly plans his meetings for the day but blocks out one hour between 11 am and noon when he won’t have electricity at home. By 11:10 am, during the scheduled power outage, he makes sure that he is waiting in line to refill CNG in his car.
With such ‘meticulous’ planning, he is home by noon – and power is back too.
“It works out perfectly. I run errands when there is no electricity. I also make sure that I nap between 4 pm and 6 pm, as there is no load-shedding during that time,” he tells The Express Tribune.
Power outages may be frustrating and disrupt daily lives, but a few people have figured a way around it. From attending a funeral to planning weddings, from shopping to finishing chores, some would argue that load-shedding not disrupted but disciplined their lives.
Danish Jaleel, a chartered accountant in Karachi, admits that power outages have taught him time management. “I make sure my cell phone and laptops are charged, my clothes are ironed when there is electricity; I do all my work outside during load-shedding hours,” he says. “We have been forced to manage time, plan ahead and discipline ourselves owing to the limited availability of electricity.”
Load-shedding has made some people efficient and disciplined, but it has also made others more grateful.
“Every moment of the utility supply is precious,” says Fakhra Batool, referring to 18 hours of load-shedding a day in Punjab. “I, now, don’t waste electricity on frivolities.”
Batool says she has given up watching soap operas now and she is happy about it. “I used to follow more than five television serials at a time. Now I just watch one and waste less time.”
Aliya Khan, a lawyer and rights activist, admits that during load-shedding hours there is more time for family but this power outage-time management ‘arrangement’ can only work with set schedules of load-shedding, which is sometimes not the case. “Unscheduled blackouts are, otherwise, a new kind of life we have been struggling to get used to for several years.”
For many workplaces, the random power outages adversely affect productivity and time management.
Even though the government needs to increase power generation and supply and living without electricity is not normal, why can’t it ensure that a set load-shedding schedule is maintained, so that people move on with their lives, accepting irregular supply as regular life, she maintains.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2014.
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