Power Games.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

This past Sunday, I spent the day at home without electricity. Now, for most people living in Nairobi, that's nothing to write home about, but indulge me. Electricity in our compound disappeared at about 11:30 Saturday night and didn't return until Monday morning at 10:30. I had been out of home all day Saturday, so by the time I got back, my phones were blinking with low charge on their batteries. I went straight to bed, hoping power would be back in the morning but unfortunately, the annoying sound of the water pump that usually drives me up the wall was absent, and that brought me close to tears. Add onto that, one dead phone, and another with barely 5% of battery charge left, I couldn't entertain myself with mindless internet as I waited for the ever faithful KPLC folk to attend to our little situation.

I decided, as it was Sunday, "Why not sleep in a little longer?" My HD dreams could certainly entertain me for a couple more hours, by which time power would definitely be back, right? Wrong.

About 7 minutes later, with sleep proving very elusive, I rolled out of bed and made myself the only edible thing in the house. A cup of black coffee, which I must say I could gladly live on.( Confessions of a caffeine junkie). I grabbed an old magazine and settled back into bed for a read. 11 minutes later, bored out of my mind, I grabbed some yarn and decided to start on a scarf for a friends daughter. I figured I could ponder life's mysteries as I watched the wool weave into something.

No such luck.

Now, usually, I am on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram(MissKihoro) or Pinterest or Tumblr (Rehab anyone) or the general web, every other minute, updating myself on what's going on but at this point, I resorted to putting my phones far from me, to avoid the disappointment of a blank screen every time I tried to check on any one of the sites for anything new.

Another thing, my car is at the garage, and has been for a couple of weeks now, so what would have been my default plan as soon as I woke up to just up and leave and look for a friend with power at their house to hang out, was not a viable option. And yes, I could have just taken a matatu, right? Again, wrong. Because that would have entailed my getting out of my pyjamas, getting in the shower and actually getting dressed. Which doesn't fly with me most Sundays.

Fast forward to 3:30pm, my mum stopped by for a bit, so I grabbed a ride to the kiosk up the road to buy some groceries. Got back home, whipped myself up something to chew on. And then...blank.

I got restless again and decided to take a walk. I asked the watchmen why KPLC had not shown up. Apparently it was an internal problem, our electricity hub got flooded and subsequently the cables got soaked. But, one block had power. KPLC was not gonna come through to fix THAT problem on a Sunday, despite several calls from other residents. I wanted to scream.

Knocked on a neighbours door, looking for company, no one was home. Or maybe he just didn't feel like my company because his car was parked outside. I skipped my other neighbour's house because I didn't want to go through the same disappointment of finding nobody home. Phones were dead. Couldn't call.

I retreated to my house. Ready to start counting the strands on my carpet to pass time. I did my nails. Yikes.

It started to grow dark, and the looming rain laden clouds hastened the darkness. I realized I had about 3 candles left. What to do. I created a little cove on the floor right next to the window, found some little scented tea lights, and the three candles. I pulled some magazines close, and stacked a couple of books closer. I vowed to sit there, in the silence, and do whatever came to me.

Floor Chill Out.

It was hard. Slowing my mind down. I realized that it's been ages since I had done this. Sat in silence. And allowed my mind to just stop and breathe. The moment I started to contemplate the calm, the trees outside my window and the now torrential rain pounding the ground, I balked, and grabbed whatever was close. Which included my hair. I really did pull my hair out that day. Lot's of it. Anxiety at its worst. I found a camera. Took a few pictures. Of the rain drops. The window. The candle flames. The trees. I was too afraid of being still. I thought of a friend, far away, having taken a vow of noble silence, and spending 2 weeks meditating for 11 hours a day. With no phones. No paper to write on. Nothing to read. Nothing. Just silence. How on earth do you even begin?

I then went through half a magazine, careful not to fall asleep because that would mean a night of wakefulness, lying in bed staring into the dark with no source of light as the candles would be done, (I sometimes get really afraid of the dark.) I then grabbed a book, Dan Brown's "Lost Symbol", which I have been eyeing but have been too taken by Haruki Murakami. The book was a great choice. I read it for about 3 hours, and it kept me gripped, and finally retreated to the bedroom where I read for another hour, then took something to help me sleep, without which, I would have stayed awake, the candles would have run out, and I would have been left clawing my hair out.

Next morning, woke up and BOOM. Electricity was back.

I'm secretly hoping for another situation like this one. I need to confront my stillness.


  1. I've been reading your blog all day, and trying to work. hehe! Great post on silence. treasure it now, cause when your married with kids, it all fades away. How I long for power outages in my life. now its just one never ending day. Anyhoo, Kenya is such a beautiful place. Maybe one day I shall visit. I am currently in the US. Blah!

    1. You should definitely come visit, although I must warn you, I know a ton of people who came here, and never left! Kenya is MAGICAL!

      I hear you on the silence bit. I am hoping to have as many kids as I can so I guess I really should enjoy my still moments as much as I can now.

      You say you are in the US now, is that where you are originally from?

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. So something good comes out of KPLC issues yes? The Lost Symbol is a great choice of book although it rings too close to conspiracy for my liking. I really hope you lose power more frequently I need to read a couple more posts like this.

  3. I remember those days. I never owned a TV when I lived in Kenya and didn't have internet. It's amazing how many good books I read. And no matter how inconvenient and frustrating power outage is, I used to love the quiet it would bring.

    I find "The Lost Symbol" an uninspired rehash of "The DaVinci Code", though.

    I like your writing style, Patricia. Don't stop.


    1. Will do Menno! Nice to hear from you. When should we expect a visit? We miss you on keys!!

  4. hi,good read. KPLC is making me romantic- candle lit dinners-. the only postive thing about their blackouts..if you have a moment you can look at my blog i'll be glad to know what you think . www.isincera.wordpress.com

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