Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Storm to Remember

It’s ironic how a lightning-filled storm can knock out the electricity to millions of people. Yesterday, I was on my way back from Hyderabad headed to Karachi, when I noticed a strange phenomenon. Suddenly, this strange liquid began to pelt our car in large drops as big as a grape. SPLAT… SPLAT… SPLAT SPLAT SPLAT SPLAT SPLAT. Now for those of you who are used to rain, this probably seems quite standard, but for those of us who live in Karachi, rain is an irregular event. I have lived here in Pakistan for 7 months and only seen raindrops twice. As we barreled forward undeterred by Mother Nature, the clouds grew dark and the wind whipped up the desert sands to obscure our view. Lightning danced all around us. Thankfully, we made it through unscathed. Outside my house in Karachi, I exited the car that had shielded me from the torrent and heard the familiar hum of the generator. Load shedding is a daily reality, so I didn’t think much of it. One hour, two, three… now this was not normal. Usually, the power stays off for only one hour. Four, five, six, seven… thank goodness that our generator runs on natural gas, because something major must have happened.

Well, we were not alone. 70% of the southernmost province of Sindh, including most of Karachi (16 million strong) was in the dark due to the very storm that we had passed through on the way home. Those who are not so lucky to have a generator of UPS suffered for 20 hours or more. Those that could afford a generator of UPS suffered for 15 hours or more depending upon how much gasoline they purchased to run those precious fans. Most of the city ground to a halt. Finally at about 1:30pm the following day, all of Karachi let out a joyous exaltation. The electricity was finally back.

Joel Montgomery

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