Life without Elec(tricity)

Is just impossible to think about, isn’t it? We are so used to ‘elec’tronic gadgets hanging from our ears, playing in front of our eyes, blowing up our hair etc. that we mourn a power cut more than the non-availability of water in washrooms! Power cuts are pretty rare in IIT Madras. They occur either during a college fest or just before/during the endsems. One such instance, however, took place in between my 5th sem and it turned out to be truly memorable experience.

It so happened that one fine humid evening, the power went off in the whole of insti for quite a few hours. Apparently, one of those huge power transformers at the substation situated at the Velachery gate had failed. (Failed as in the layman language. Don’t ask me about the technicalities. I never ever got a ‘feel’ for that!) Prior to the blackout, I was as usual squatting on my wooden chair, eyes glued to the laptop screen, left hand fingers on my cell phone, furiously typing out smses and the right hand, stuffing a biscuit in my mouth. Suddenly, the room plunged into darkness and lo! my laptop went dead too. The only source of light was my cell phone, looking like some witch ball. I would have screamed my lungs out had I not realised that my roommate was also there in the room, giggling at the whatever she was watching in her laptop. I swiftly crossed the room, bumped my roommate’s chair in between, jumped on her bed and landed on her leg in the process, but finally settled myself well within the tiny area where the light from her laptop could reach. My roommate was appalled but just like a nice room partner, she sacrificed her comfortable lie-down position and sat up in a crumbled way so that I could fit. She also gave one of her earphones to me.

Soon, we got bored. And also, it was terribly hot in the room. Once I was out, I felt as if the darkness had induced some kind of eerie quietness and in that, everyone’s voice sounded ten times magnified. My roommate went to my neighbouring room and I cautiously made my way to Meghana’s room who stayed in my opposite wing. She was sitting outside her room, listening to gult songs. Before long, almost all my friends had gathered over there and we decided to play antakshari. My room was chosen as mosquitoes made it impossible to sit outside. The first song was ‘Yeh Ishq Hai’ from the movie ‘Jab We Met’. But the crowd mostly consisted of gult junta, so many didn’t know the lyrics. We stopped the song in between and started a gult song which has Hindi lyrics. The gult junta crooned with full élan, with Pranitha practically bouncing up and down and rocking the bed. (Thank God, I was sitting on the chair!) This was followed by a few more gult songs at the end of which Pranitha had reached the heights of hysteria and unknowingly started hitting those sitting beside her! We immediately stopped and, much to my relief, moved on to Hindi songs once again.

We began with ‘Yeh Mera Dil’ from the movie ‘Don’. Pranitha didn’t know the lyrics. Not to be left out, she started adding the background music. So far, so good. After some few songs, on Meghana’s insistence, we decided upon ‘Khuda Jaane’ from the movie ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’ which happens to be Pranitha’s star song. So we let her sing it alone. A while after the song started, Manasi, who could no longer stand the ghastly distortion of Hindi lyrics, ran away! The others were a bit more considerate and stayed on till she finished. The moment it was over, everybody burst out laughing, even Pranitha.

We ended our game and decided to go for our dinner. The whole mess was illuminated by candles, 2 on each table. It felt different and nice, dining in candlelight with your friends and chatting away endlessly. (Since nobody could see the watch!) The only minus point was that I couldn’t see what I was eating but thankfully, the grub smelt good! People retired to their own rooms after dinner. Power came within half an hour and once again, everybody became lost in their own ‘elec’tronic worlds.

How many of us generally indulge in an impromtu antarshari or a word game with a bunch of friends? That day, I too would have just continued staring, messaging, hogging, just like any other day in my life, had it not been for the power failure. A technical failure helped me make memories which I will cherish forever. Miraculous scientific discoveries like electricity and likewise have, no doubt, made our life smooth and seemingly effortless. But sometimes, their absence also make life worth living.

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