I always thought I were dependent on my high-tech equipment for fieldwork, but it turns out the low-tech is as important. Low-tech as in: running water and decent power supply. Both of which turned quite sketchy over the last days - forcing me to while away my time in the shady trees around Rifah-e-Aam, temporarily suspending thinking, not to speak of doing interviews or, God forbid, writing stuff. I can't even write blog posts, at least not about my topic. But I have plenty to say on other electricizing issues (does that expression exist in English? It does in German anyway). Here is my week's rant:
It all began when the summer heat turned above 45 degrees celsius. Reason enough for some thunder and lightning we thought - till we realized that the lightning occured between our AC outdoor unit and the metal balcony grill. Impressive, loud and bright - and, subsequently, hot within the flat and smoky outside. The electrician put in a new cable, fitted with tesa© tape, a high-tech German engineering product as he keenly pointed out. Just to be on the safe side, I later replaced the defunct tripping fuse as well - he rather opted to rely on his rubber-feet sandals and the many charms around his neck. Which could explain the short life expectancy of Indian electricians, and in turn the mediocre quality of service (and yes, I know this is a spurious circular argument - even in 45 degrees, I can think that much).
It was only a couple of days later that we discovered that the frequent powercuts are not just due to the summer, nor only due to the fact that our new chief minister Akhilesh-Ji stopped buying additional electricity for his populace after his initial weeks in office were passed (he initially did so to bring solace to the schoolchildren of his electorate, who had to write their final exams in April). No, there is a far more simple explanation. Look closely at todays picture. Do you see the solid black wire? This comes from the main line. And the equally solid blue wires run through the house. What worries me are the yellow wires, the flimsy ones - they connect the black to the blue via the mandatory meter. On this yellow flimsiness depend cooling, showering, lighting, and so much more for two households. No wonder they, too, smoke once in a while. In particular when fitted with little wood splinters (but: at least they were the chepaest wires they could find when they installed the new meter, we heard. No doubt about that).
To conclude: I hope you will forgive me if I cannot really post something inspiring today. I will be back in a week - hopefully with fresh, energizing/electricizing ideas. Until then, don't despair if I answer contact attempts with an uncommented link to Weather Underground...