Darkness, don't be my guest again

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  • Published 8.12.12

Anxiety eased into smiles as the high court played saviour, bailing Jharkhand out of a man-made ‘black hole’ that lasted for almost 48 hours before the JSEB employees’ strike was called off on Friday morning.

Like every other power board command area in the state, residents of capital Ranchi too suffered no less an ordeal. But, for some, like the Nags of Kantatoli’s Netaji Nagar Colony, the hassle quotient was a tad too high because guests came calling.

“My elder son Shankhadeep and daughter-in-law Smriti turned up from Dhanbad early yesterday (Thursday). Their visit was scheduled and we had never thought the power cut would last so long. Else, we could have asked them to postpone their trip. It was only after newspapers landed on our doorstep that we realised what we were up against,” said homemaker Purnima Devi, whose husband N.C. Modak Nag is an employee of Food Corporation of India (FCI) in Ranchi.

The Nags — the elderly couple and their younger son — live on the ground floor of their two-storied home, while the top floor is rented. “No power since Wednesday midnight meant dry toilet taps and no drinking water in the kitchen. Though both families have separate tanks, the stored water wasn’t enough for daily chores, cooking or even drinking. With two more people coming in, you can well imagine the hassle,” Purnima said.

For the men in the family, wet towels and deodorants were consolation in bath crisis. “Fortunately, it is winter. You can afford to skip shower for a day, change clothes, spray some deo or perfume and head for office. We then freshened up at our respective offices. My wife and daughter-in-law, on the other hand, bought two 20-litre cans of water for emergency use,” said the FCI official.

With no power to run the geyser, the two women at home also had to warm up buckets of water in the sun on the terrace. “Warming water on LPG is not an option anymore because cylinders have been rationed,” the homemaker said.

Purnima added that she had to rejig the day’s menu too. “We, Bengalis, love to eat and go for lavish spreads irrespective of occasions. But with no water and electricity, you can’t plan anything. So, for breakfast, I simply boiled eggs and served them with bread and butter. Lunch was puffed rice (muri) with boiled potatoes and tomatoes garnished with green chillies.”

As the crisis deepened by dusk on Thursday, the Nags and a couple of other households in Netaji Nagar Colony decided to pool in money and hire a generator. The idea was to use it for a few hours to run water pumps and fill up overhead tanks.

But, getting a generator is no cakewalk when more than half of the state is groping in the dark.

“Most generator sets had been hired by restaurant owners and nursing homes. After scouting for one at several places, we managed to get hold of one at almost double the price than the normal rate of Rs 2,000 for five hours. The price of candles too had soared,” said 30-year-old Shankhadeep Nag, the couple’s elder son who runs an English coaching institute in Dhanbad.

But then, they say, all is well that ends well. Power was restored at Netaji Nagar Colony around 11.30am on Friday.