Life in the Bubble, winter in Kathmandu

20 minutes left until our generator turns off, as I’ve set the timer, give or take 15 minutes. You know how those little plastic pegs on the timer can be a bit imprecise. It’s winter in the ‘du and that means load-shedding (or on-purpose power outages to the layman) for a large part of the day. We get a schedule sent out by the power company, conveyed to us by one means or another, as an excel spreadsheet. I’ve set it up on our Google calendar or course, just to make it a bit more predictable. It’s up to 14 hours a day in two seven hour blocks, hopefully it won’t get much worse. We heard that one year it got up to 22.

15 minutes. The wall-mounted AC/Heater unit tousles my hair and warms the room. The “OOOHHHMMM” of the diesel generator out front makes the windows rattle a bit, and nearly drowns out the crows calling. The kids are drinking tea from their miniature illy espresso cups after a lunch of leftovers. Jean is out controlling a VIP visit from Washington, the whispers of her politically-coned career aspirations drawing her in like a college student coming alive in a life-changing lecture, and I’m baching it for the day.

The pollution and chill in the air weren’t enough to keep us away from the farmer’s market downtown today. Strawberries, farm-raised eggs, a small side of bacon, farm-house sausages, soft goat cheese, some chocolate croissants and an italian loaf. Not too bad for Kathmandu.
(Lucas on the climbing wall in Thamel)
5 minutes. Our battery backups need new batteries and I know the internet will cut out within 5 minutes of the power outage. Then it will be time to run an earthquake drill, write some thank you letters, and have the kids play outside.

Our NGO (Non-governmental organization. Some people work for international ones and people say their name-O. -INGO) friends don’t have generators. They have car batteries with inverters. And passive solar water heating. And yet they are still making that choice, to live that way, for whatever reason. We live in a bubble. It’s good in the bubble. I choose to have my power off. Like that song by Pulp, Common People where her daddy could make it all go away with just a phone call. Like Basquiat. I’m choosing. I choose to give my kids a little character, and also choose to have a hot shower in the morning. Choice is good.

The kids go back to school Monday after a three week hiatus, if you can believe it. Six am wakeups, school lunches, after school activities and bus pickups. I’ll get a lot more done during the day though, and can look forward to planning social dinners, our spring vacation, and getting our documents converted into all digital (scanning into PDF our entire filing cabinet to reduce on weight and make natural disasters not matter when it comes to that stuff.) before we leave Nepal, seven months from now.

The generator just turned off. Time to post thi-