BANGALORE: Years before the TV became part of the household furniture in Bangalore, power cuts meant little to the city’s residents. Children didn’t have to crib about missing their favourite channels. They would, on the contrary, cheer as the house is plunged into darkness for, they could put away their school books and snuggle up under the blankets. And families anyway, used to retire early to bed, rendering the power cuts redundant.
There were other modes of entertainment every time the lights went out. The family would huddle around and engage in a game of Word Building, where one is supposed to make a word from the last letter of the previous word, or play “Antakshari” or make shadows on the wall against the flickering candle light, which is at the mercy of the fluttering moth.
Sometimes, the household would relocate to the terrace and play with the mongrel or on moonlit nights, squat on the floor for a moonlight dinner. The grandma, with the vessels full of pre-mixed sambar rice and curd rice, would be the focus of attention with the rest of the family sitting round her, with the air filled with the aroma of the dishes and the fragrance of the night queen.
She tosses the rice in her hand till it becomes a bite-sized ball and drops it into the extended hands. The ball is swallowed in one gulp and the hand reaches out for the next helping. The children occasionally share their helpings with the mongrel pet sitting at the edge of the circle with its tail wagging and ears cocked up.
There was also a time in the early ‘70s when entire families waited to turn lights off on their own volition. It was during the 1971 war when the air raid warnings were sounded. Children would rush to make sure they were the first to turn the lights out.
The city too contributed its mite to the war effort. Households shopped for brown paper covers to cover the windows with. A few of the factories manufactured black stickers that would be pasted on automobile headlights. It was common to see cars and BTS buses on the roads with their headlights masked by the black stickers save for a small hole to let a small beam of light through.
Today, though power cuts are a nuisance, a few Bangaloreans ensure they don’t miss their entertainment. For, given the uncertainty of power supply, most apartments in the city have generator back-ups and in a few other homes, the inverter has become part of the furniture.