Friday, July 16, 2010

Water & Electricity

After having spent several days, weeks, and months throughout the first twenty years of my life traveling to different "developing" countries, two observations in particular remain constant across the board.

Water and Electricity - we live the way we do with more than a comfortable amount of water and electricity to accompany our everyday way of life. When we feel cold in the winter, we crank up the heater and take a nice hot bath. When we find ourselves uncomfortably hot, we go to that little digital box on the wall and type in the number we actually want to feel. I say all of this not to make one feel guilty or stupid for utilizing these luxuries found in many American homes, but to point out to you as a comfortable user of such resources that water and electricity are prioritized and utilized in a completely different manner in many other countries.

When you wake in the morning in Amman, Jordan and want to take your morning shower, so does everybody else. If too many people use the water at the same time, everyone's water shuts off, and the same goes for using fans and electricity. When one goes to take an afternoon nap at the LAFTI headquarters, it is often likely that one has chosen to do so during one of the government's "scheduled" power outages. Anywhere from 2-6 hours of the day, both schedule and unscheduled, as Indians would say, "the current is cut".

After finding myself often unable to write due to either a four-hour power outage or the heat exhaustion to follow, I discovered that the workers plan their day to be as efficient as possible. They arrive early in the morning before the "real heat" sets in, and then work until the current is cut, at which point they take an afternoon nap, eat a re-energizing meal, and then carry on with their daily work.

Although there are richer segments of every population that do have the possibility of enjoying such amenities (with generators, etc.), this very small portion is virtually non-existent when compared to the number of people in the United States who do not have to worry about when to take their morning shower or schedule their afternoon nap.

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