I took some time off work on Tuesday morning to get my electricity issues sorted out. I had planned on going all the way to Nairobi and waiting in a line for hours at the KPLC office. I decided to stop by Westlands to pay my rent and mentioned my problems with electricity to one of the guys there. Almost immediately he produced a large fuse (“Is that something behind your ear?”) and said it would do the trick. “Can you meet me at your house in 30 minutes?” Sawa sawa (ok)!
And I always loved toast with peanut butter and honey. I forgot to pay my electricity bill on time and KPLC came and disconnected me. That was almost a week ago, and I am still trying to figure out how to get it turned back on. Surprisingly, my hot water heater was hot for about a day, and then lukewarm for another day beyond that. Hot water is great for shaving, but lighting the bathroom with a candle really sucks.
Less-than-average rains this past year mean Kenya’s hydroelectric dam at Masinga is bone dry, forcing the government to start rationing electricity. There are so many reasons why failed rains suck (not the least of which is a pending famine), but here’s one I haven’t heard anyone talk about: how does an electric security fence work without electricity? You see, in addition to security guards, every private compound has a wall around its perimeter, topped with either broken glass or a few rows of electric cables. How are those fences going to zap intruders if power is cut from 6 AM to 6 PM three days a week? That’s not to say I’m worried about my security (I live on the fifth floor of my building, behind a bullet-proof door), it just seems like it would be a serious concern to some people.
The lack of rain is agitating in other funny ways too. For example, it’s hard to wash your hair when there’s no water in the house. This is, of course, a complication of the government’s other new rationing program: water! The worst-case scenario here is sleepily assuming you’ll be able to take a quick shower and snoozing your alarm, thereby grabbing an extra thirty minutes of sleep before work. This is fabulous until you wake up and crawl over to the shower, only to flip the knob and watch an anything-but-impressive stream of water dribble out. It’s happened to me twice in the last week! By the time I capture a pot of water, heat it on the stove, and wash my hair with a cup another half hour has passed and I’m cursing myself for nabbing those extra Zs… but they are always so sweet, so there is a good chance I’ll do the same thing tomorrow morning!