Hyderabad, Oct. 19
Last Tuesday evening, when the rain began, its rising intensity indicated what might be coming ahead. One of the possible associated events was a power cut at my residence in Hilltop Colony, Khairatabad. And that, I guessed, would prove a challenge, what with an ageing mobile phone with an equally ageing laptop that no longer hold power in their old batteries as they used to when the gadgets were new. As things turned it, this indeed was the case. About three hours into the downpour, we lost power, just as things were getting hot on the work front. There were reports to read and clear, and reports still to be written. Telangana state by far, has one of the best and reliable electricity supply systems in the country, more so when it comes to Hyderabad. But having been a witness countless number of times to how rain and power supply are inter-related, I quickly plugged in the chargers for the phone, the laptop and a small power bank. It is not that power goes on the blink every time it rains in hard in the city. Ninety times out of hundred, when this does happen, it is deliberate. TSSPDCL, the power supply utility, does not take chances of electricity related accidents during heavy rains just in case a downed tree or a fallen branch or electricity pole, results in a fallen and charged power line that can electrocute anyone who comes into contact with it. For me, working from home, the extended power cut that ran into day three after beginning on Tuesday night, meant using a small rechargeable torchlight as a lantern, a candle to read my notes for the reports I had to file, a dinner cooked in the light of the same candle, and a race with the burning and melting candle to finish work, that I managed to do around 11.30 pm. The next day, on Wednesday as the rain continued off and on, I called the TSSPDCL office to find out about a possible timeline as to when the power would be back. I was told that the entire area was affected as the electricity sub-station that serves our area was flooded. A couple of the elderly persons in our apartment complex, who use the elevator to come down to the ground for quick walks within the compound, had to give up on their walks as climbing back up the stairs was beyond them, while the watchman was in great demand with questions on if there was enough water in the overhead tank and what would happen if the water in the tank runs out. In short, I was told not to expect power for the next few hours. This was around noon. I went to buy pack of candles – that cost `80 for six – from a neighbourhood kirana store, a trip that meant stepping gingerly over streams of rainwater mixed with sewage overflowing from choked drains on the streets. Meanwhile, the phone and the power bank ran out of power as did the laptop. It was at around 7 pm that I made second hop scotching trip to the market area to a shop on the other side of our colony which had power – they were served by a different sub-station! – and the shopkeeper was more than willing to let me charge my gadgets. On a whim, I checked if candles were available at the kirana store and was told that they were sold out. All the man had left was a small pack of birthday candles, which too apparently were in demand. Tuesday night’s cycle was repeated and it around 2 am on Thursday that the power came back, but only briefly. That gave some hope. As Thursday rolled around, the power situation substantially improved, it was more on than off and by evening, power supply was steady save for a couple of very brief breaks.