It was probably the first time that I sat through a talk on green stuff. The talk was given by one Rob Newman, as part of a “Green week” program organized by the university. The talk entitled “Capitalism or conservation” was quite verbose, and at some points winded - but nevertheless it was a dialogue that eventually was culminated at the inference that capitalism and a “green” sustained ecology cannot go hand in hand.
The end of talk discussion went on for quite a while, ranging from topics about alternative energy sources, the role of supermarket players in supporting/uprooting the livelihood of farmers and small shops, and so on and so forth. There was of course the question of how to set the ball in motion - should it be an organized movement, or just pockets of realization that eventually find a common ground to unite and conglomerate.
From my perspective, there is absolutely no question that the realization of the importance of a sustained ecology should arise in the individual, and eventually diffuse throughout. Quite frankly, a self respecting individual wouldn’t like to be told what to do - he has to realize. And one way to realize that is by load-sheddings.
Load-sheddings is a concept that developed in the 70’s India - to curb and conserve the consumption of coal in the production of electricity, the electric supplies to houses were routinely disrupted for an hour or two daily. Of course, the whole city wouldn’t be blacked out at the same time, but one or a few substations would be powered down. The exact time of the power-down, or load-shedding, would be previously known to the locals, and just before the clock struck twelve, they would gather all the necessary armament to brave the next one or one and a half hours without electricity - handfans, mosquito repellents, mosquito nets. Ladies of the household would have long finished their cooking, the elderly gathered out in chairs in the courtyard, ready for that candlelight game of chess, or just nostalgic banter. For that one hour, the city block would become a village, removed from civilization as a city defines it to be.
In that one hour, completely disconnected and relieved from modern ameneties - for the first time, you start to enjoy the company of a cricket. Grandchildren who were busy all day with their homework, or tv cartoon schedules, would huddle around the chairs of their grandparents, listening to just made-up stories. Gossip would reach a peak around this time too. If it was still the late evening, the virgin newspaper from day before yesterday would finally be read. As the night settles, you would hear a distant crackle of some battery powered radio. In pocket slightly removed from the city center, one would see the night sky in all its glory, the horizon being marked by probably a few hurricane lamps, or a cyclist with his dynamo powered headlight streaking away in the darkness. The beauty just starts to unfold, when the current comes back and all returns to normal.
The interesting thing is, for that one hour, while towards the beginning of it one did feel edgy and naggy, as the time ripens the absence is hardly noted. Each person derives pleasure of this absence in his or her own way, be it playing marbles, or burbling away that hookah reminiscing memories. The cricket is all one needs for company sometimes.
Times have changed, and while India still has its share of load-sheddings, the availability of mobile internet still keeps one plugged to the Matrix at all times. If it were somehow possible to revolutionize the movement of loadsheddings again and bring within its drape the temporary suspension of the internet, there is still hope that we will listen to that cricket in our rooms again. And this, according to my view, is one of the ways that the seeds of a better future can be sown again.