March 5, 2012

Nepal and Load Shedding and Me



The Kantipur Temple House staff placed this slip of paper in my hotel room. Power outages (“load shedding” here) are a fact of life in Kathmandu and Pokhara, especially in winter, when water levels -- and hydropower -- are at their lowest.

In the capital, electricity is rationed, shifting from district to district every eight hours or so. The outages can last up to 16 hours in both Kathmandu and Pokhara. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that hotels can now post a schedule. In the past, I had only a rough idea when the power would be on or off.

Load shedding doesn’t mean total blackout. Street lights remain on. Hotels, restaurants and shops use generators to provide essential lighting. While the Kantipur lobby and restaurant are fully lit, my own room is illuminated with a single bulb when the power is off. So, during evening load shedding, I head to the lobby to read, or I use a flashlight in bed… like a kid who can’t put his “Hardy Boys” mystery down after mom and dad have issued the final “lights out!” ultimatum.

I was delighted to find that this hotel now offers wifi, but it’s not available during outages. My usual routine is to blog and check email early in the morning or late at night – a perfect schedule during this trip, when I’m busy during the day visiting old friends and exploring. The load shedding schedule might challenge my blogging plans a little, but, let’s face it: living life always trumps writing about it!
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