At 11:30 this morning, as I entered a local market store, to buy some milk, I realized all was dark but didn’t even think twice about it. That is one sign that I have been living in India for a while. Beyond needing to ask a store employee if someone could read the expiration date on the side of the milk for me, since I could not make it out in the dark, it just seemed like another day in Delhi.
An infrequent power outage from a storm or power grid issue was an occasional treat to pull out the candles and flashlights back home. Here in India, everyone gets to experience power outages and let’s just say they are not occasionally. Fortunately for us, we have a very heavy duty generator that turns on the moment the power fails so it feels like a beat is hardly missed when these occur. We are one of the fortunate ones — we have power back up. I must also state that we seem to get very few power outages compared to other parts of Delhi and its surrounding areas. We have sat in friends’ homes in other parts of the city and had the power go out 5 or 6 times in a couple of hours. We seem to be residing in an area that gets good power supply and we are grateful for it as we look around and realize how many people do not.
According to an Economist magazine article a few years ago, one-fifth of the world’s population does not have access to electricity and many more have intermittent access. It is in the villages and rural areas of India where lack of electricity is common. According to a local newspaper only half of rural India uses electricity as its source of power. So what is the power source? It’s firewood and kerosene. In urban areas, over 93% use electricity as their power source.
In this massive city, the amazing thing to me is when I pass the slum neighborhoods, there is no electricity running to their homes, but satellite dishes are prevalent all over the rooftops. How do they get their power? That is definitely a mystery but from what I have been told, they are very creative in running wires to connect with electricity outside of the slum area and tapping in to “someone’s” electricity. I have also heard expats share how they have had to hire some “detective” work on their use of electricity as they notice their bills skyrocket and the mystery reveals that people have tapped into their electrical source.
So how common do we hear those generators turn on? We are one of the fortunate ones — we only have it happen a couple of times a week. The only time it really has affected us is last May, when the temperatures were around 110 degrees and a wind storm knocked down some trees taking the power lines on our street with them. When our generators take over, the air conditioners do not work so it was a couple of very long, hot days. It sure does make one appreciate the miracle of electricity and count the blessing of being one of those here in India who has it.