15 March 2007

Myth busted: Lights off, comrade

I am pretty used to blackouts in Turkey, where all computers must come with UPS (uninterrupted power source) to protect your 150 page long project files against vanishing in a moment. Even in our house in Ankara, we used to keep oil-lanterns and candles in case of a blackout.

But knowing that Russia has long boasted about its energy infrastructure backed with nuclear power plants, the last thing I expected was a major cut off of energy when I arrived home and couldn't get the lights on.

The funny thing is that the lighting in the corridors and ,the most important, the elevators worked perfectly fine and that led me to think that there is something wrong about my own flat's fusing. As coming from a quasi-technical background, the whereabouts of the fusing was one the first questions I asked to my landlord and I remember that he hesitatingly showed me a rusted old metal box with a lot of loose dangling wiring and a forest of wires. Another remnant of a well serviced technological soviet marvel.

I used the fading light of my cell-phone to find anything that looked like a fuse in the wiring that rather looked like the chest of an android after being shot 4 times by a shotgun and I eventually couldn't find anything at all (and honestly, I was pretty scared to be electricuted down in a damp russian basement) I stepped up and knocked some of my neighbor's doors for help. None but one of them answered to my call (I knew that Russians aren't really famous for their neighbor relations; but I expected some help since I was psyched after a hard day's work to find all my flat dark and frozen food thawed). The guy checked me through the visor and decided not to answer at all...I heard him step hard back to his beer session...nice

There are a lot of these plants around Moscow. They not only produce electricity, but a lot of poison for our daily dietary supplement

To my luck, one of the old guys got out from one of the flats upstairs to take his dog for a walk ( he must have been bored sitting at a dark flat). He was already swearing to the administration when I asked him what really happened. He told me that he has called the administration many times and he was expecting to get the "lights" back in hours...I walked down the stairs (I was also frightened to get locked down in a russian elevator..although the elevators seemed to be working fine) with him and saw that a lot of neighbors were enjoying their evening beer in the mud soaked garden.

-What is this Valodya?
-This is "ELEKTЯIK" , Comrade Mother.
-What will you do with it?
-This is the key to the world revolution, Comrade Mother. We will kill a lot of Kulaks with this..

I couldn't wait any longer and left to stay in a friend's flat...

So another myth about Russia is busted...no reliable electricity.

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