Back – Kind of…

I’ve been offline for the past five days due to a screwup at BSNL, my ISP. They have been interesting. The bombings kept everyone at home all weekend it seems. The newspaper even showed a photo of a “deserted” MG road that still had too many people for Daniela’s taste. It was however a fraction of the usual hordes. The kids can now find Gudjarat on the map. Newspapers talk incessantly of terrorists; what is wrong with the government’s attempts to root them out, how which groups work, the lucky and unlucky stories. There is even a wikipedia article on the Bangalore attacks, as well as the ones in Gujarat on Saturday.

I’m actually starting to get sick of terrorism. Honestly, I’m more interested in what they are doing about the electricity and diesel shortages in Karnataka. This part of India gets a big part of its power from hydroelectric dams. Until this week, the monsoon rains had more or less failed to make it over the mountains, meaning the reservoirs are low and power production is reduced. There are scheduled blackouts lasting several hours a day. This being India, people are prepared for public infrastructure to fail. Everyone and their pet monkey has a diesel powered backup generator. Palm meadows has kept our blackouts to a minimal duration, though even they seem to run out of fuel on longer outages (and always just 5 minutes longer than my inverter can hold out for). This sudden surge in home generated electricity also means a 50% spike in diesel usage; something that the gas companies have not been able to supply.

So we have a water shortage. Doe to the water shortage, we have an electricity shortage. Due to the electricity shortage, we have a diesel shortage. Most gas stations (called “bunks” here) have shortages. Those that have diesel develop long lines reminiscent of the 1973 oil embargo. My driver spent half a day last week finding fuel for our car.

I never dreamed that the amount of rainfall could affect my ability to get fuel.

Call me cynical, but I think that it is safe to say that more people have died in July due to food poisoning (that would not have otherwise happened if the power had not gone down for an extended time, making refrigeration unreliable) than terrorism. Tens of thousands die every year in India from bites of the common krait and russel’s viper. Terrorism kills a number in the low hundreds. People won’t go to MG road for fear of further attacks, but they’ll walk barefoot in the dark – risking snakebite – and the non vegetarian will risk e.coli tainted meat in an environment where refrigeration has become unreliable. People everywhere it seems worry most about what the newspapers are worrying about and energy shortages are last week’s news.

Ah and it finally started raining in earnest this week! FINALLY!!!

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2 responses to “Back – Kind of…

  1. That was insightful….and a lot of it made sense. I think the one element you missed was the role of “choice” – people can choose not to go to MG Road, but the people who go without refrigeration (not power, mind you, but refrigeration), or without footwear in the dark usually don’t have a choice.

    Cheers,
    Quirky Indian
    http://quirkyindian.wordpress.com

  2. I think you may be right about the role of choice. Someone can choose not to wear a seatbelt. Another might be that novel dangers are scarier than familiar ones. With a familiar danger, we have a good feel for the actual risks. With a novel one, we are not so good at weighing the actual risk and then it looms larger because of this.

    Which is precisely why terrorism works, sadly.

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