March 21, 2009

Buns of Steel

I bet you don’t have this problem when living outside Lebanon. But we do. Frequently so. It’s the stair case.

Most of Beirut’s buildings these days is high rise; 8 floors and up. These buildings have elevators, but you need electricity to operate an elevator, and that we don’t have. Or at least not constantly. Many of the newer buildings have generators, but as anyone living here in a building with another 7 or families knows; there’s always a few that don’t pay the costs of the generator. They figure, especially when they live on the first and second floor, that when the bill comes, they don’t really need that elevator that much anyway. And so the number of paying members shrinks and shrinks until the thing breaks down, and there goes your elevator.

The government does provide electricity, but at intervals. I haven’t figured out the schedule in my neighborhood yet, as it frequently changes. But it is something like 4 hours on, 4 hours off. Most people organize their schedule around this. So you’re having lunch with someone, and are about to go, when they say; “No, let’s stay some more, the electricity is not coming back until one hour,” which means they’d rather sit with you, than negotiate 10 flights of stairs. Or you’re having fun with friends, when one suddenly announces that he’s got to go home, otherwise he ‘misses the elevator’, meaning the electricity will go off.

And so we plan our lives (that is if you live fourth floor or up) around this electricity grid. I sometimes wonder what would happen if both the electricity and the generator of my building would decide to quit n extended period of time. My apartment would become inhabitable in no time. I’d run out of water, since the water wouldn’t be pumped up anymore (there’s no pressure on the water in Beirut). I’d have to haul groceries for a family and a menagerie of animals 12 floors up. Clothes wouldn’t be washed; no water. Toilets wouldn’t get flushed. Civilization (in my household at least) will suffer a breakdown.

But what a work-out that would be! I’d have buns of steel!
How did I get to this reflection? I just walked twelve flights of stairs due to generator maintenance, and there’s no electricity. I am happy though I still make it one haul. And while climbing those stairs, I think about my buns of steel.


Anonymous said...

we are so lucky to have blackouts
imagine once a day all your home appliances shut down, no noise, no lights, total break from everything
...and at nights few candles, such a rest for the senses...
that why i rather not having generator back up!
we are so lucky to have these moments!

Raffi said...

Yeah, come to think of the positive side of this, why is that during blackouts the family members in the house gather around and remember the good-old days and have a great laugh, or someone remembers a song and all start to sing...

Blackouts, they help us reevaluate what we value.

This nostalgia and gathering is suddenly broken, when the lights are back and everyone goes back to doing what he/she does... alone.

It was years ago, I remember, that after hours of blackout, when the lights were back, people cheered, laughed and clapped. Some even danced.

Anonymous said...

...yes!thank you Raffi!
And believe me you still can have this nowadays, just invest in a good UPS to protect your computer and never have to deal with these thiefs who supply generator back-up power!
blackouts are one of the things that remind us of our illusion of control :)
i like!