The Great Selective Centre Blackout of 2011

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Living in a Dickens’ novel has never been on my list of ‘stuff I really need to experience’ but yesterday evening I had that chance as the bazaar restaurant of life served me a dish I was certain I did not order. Darkness took over our little corner of the world when a fuse took out most of the electrics in the lower portion of the house. I was just finishing up my daily writing quota when my computer made a funny noise and shut down, the lights went out, and I was left scrambling for my book-light, which is ten times as useful as any torch I have ever owned. The hour was late, and I think everyone else had taken to their beds.

I live in the same building as a cafe. In total the house I live in contains five working fridges, and so leaving the problem to be fixed in the morning was not an option. The basement floor was completely wiped of power, and the ground floor still had one working fridge, but no toaster, no lights and, oddly, no electric shaver, which someone had left to charge in the hallway. I utilized my book-light to navigate the windy backstairs to the upper-floor, where I was unsurprised to find most lights off, and more surprised to find some on. I tapped on the door which lies between the hall and the Centre-teacher’s study. Ben is a resilient Buddhist, but I’m not sure how often he stays up past eleven to meditate and study, and I think I may have been fortunate in his doing so on this particular day.

When I told him that the lower floors were condemned to darkness, he responded by telling me, that while the lights upstairs were unaffected, his computer had also fizzled out, but his lamp had remained intact. This is what happens at the Centre; we have selective blackouts. Apparently the switch-box is in the basement. We carried on back down the unlit hallways, and staircases to the house’s lower level with only my trusted book-light in hand, and a determination in our hearts to restore power to the Centre before 90% of the food kept within its mechanical ice-boxes was ruined forever. Of course, in a house of three-floors the switch-box is a large white container of doom. Three of the switches had flipped, but none of them would return to their original position. It was now time to awake the sleeping guru. Her name is Dema, and she pretty much keeps everything in the house ticking, running, working, tidy, on time and, in this instance, powered. Back up we transversed to the highest heights of our home.

Dema had a working light, and understood our urgency in rousing her, but she did not, understandably get out of bed. She told us about another fuse; one of myth and legend, which would not only restore power to the building, but would create peace and harmony among all living beings, and she gave us a map. No, I’m kidding. She alerted us to the fact that before a fuse could return to normality, we needed to push it further down (I would like to know whom exactly decided to make this an annoying feature of fuse-boxes). “Ohhhh okay”, and Ben and I returned to the box, and did as she instructed.

Power restored, fridges working, celebrations all round. Bed time. I wish the ending had been more exciting for you, my dear hypothetical audience, but this is why fiction is often so popular. It would also do us to remember that the journey is often more worthwhile than the result, because now I know where the fuse-box is, and how to work it, I shall never be in need of the journey up those dark stairwells again. As Morcheeba so rightly stated “just enjoy the ride’.



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