As a long-time resident of New Bombay, I have grown accustomed to comforts that often elude the average Mumbaikar, such as air that does not smell of bombil rotting in the armpit of a corpse. But every now and then, this old-world charm goes a bit too far and we end up right back in the Stone Age. I’m referring, of course, to the power crisis that recently hit various Mumbai suburbs, thus helping us learn what it feels like to live inside Satan’s anus.
Unless you’re in a house full of women and your name is Shakti Kapoor, there is no such thing as a fun power cut. But to serve up 3 to 13 hours of load-shedding every day is just another level of depravity, especially during October, when the entire city anyway turns into a giant, miserable wet T-shirt contest (which, by the way, I’m totally winning right now)
The worst-affected areas include Kalyan-Dombivali, Kanjurmarg, Bhandup, Vasai-Virar and Nallasopara, all of which are routinely described as “beautiful residential areas” by blind people. But still, there’s no excuse for shoddy service, as MSEB officials found out the hard way when angry consumers set fire to their office in Nallasopara, because, c’mon, what else can you do on a Friday night in Nallasopara?
Faced with a backlash, our Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that the government was working towards fixing the problem. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have much faith in a guy whose only selling point is, “Hey, at least I’m not Ashok Chavan.”
It’s not just Mumbai – large parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal and New Delhi have been hit by major power outages as well. Of course, Karnataka doesn’t count because the authorities probably shut down the power there themselves after they saw electricity being used to power speakers that play loud western music. (I wish Karnataka would stop with the moral policing and go back to simpler times, when the only thing they hated was Tamil Nadu)
West Bengal (aka ‘Poscho Bonga’ or ‘Posh Bangs’ or ‘Push my Bongos’ or whatever it’s called now) is too broke to pay for coal, resulting in 4-5 hours of daily power cuts. On the plus side, burning buses make for excellent sources of light.
The capital is struggling with a 1000MW shortfall due to glitches in the Northern Grid. To make matters worse, New Delhi’s Power Minister Haroon Yusuf claimed that U.P has been overdrawing from the grid, messing things up for Delhi. I bet the Manoos Brigade is kicked to hear that for a change, North Indians are stealing from other North Indians.
The crisis is being blamed on a sudden nationwide coal shortage. Coal supplies from Andhra Pradesh have been hit because of the Telangana agitation, which, as you know, is the movement demanding a separate state for people with too much free time. What gets me is the suddenness of it all. When it comes to coal, our politicians are basically saying, “I swear it was here and then it was just gone!” which is also what Poonam Pandey said about her virginity.
But despite everything – despite the heat, the frustration and the desire to walk into work wearing just a towel – I urge to you to remain calm and not do anything stupid. Things will get back to normal very soon, right after I’m done burning down some offices.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 16th Oct 2011)