Friday, September 5, 2014

Powerless



Asalamu Alaykom,




Writing to you quickly because God only knows how long Egypt will have electricity.  That sounds like a joke (and I wish it was) but it's not.  Today, my home was without power for 12 hours.  Now, I'm from the Midwest and I understand power being out due to storms and downed trees.  I've lived in Egypt for the past five years so I also understand powercuts for an hour or so.  I don't understand a complete day without electricity...nationwide.

The Egyptian government is telling a story that the power went out at 6:15.  For me, it was already off when I woke up at 4:50 AM.  It didn't come back on again until 4:30 PM.  That's a whole day.

Through the absolute Grace of God, I had some strange notion Wednesday night to press all my clothes and even El-Kid's PE uniform.  This is not normal for me to be this prepared.  My husband even commented that it seemed odd yet it was a brilliant move.  Alhumdulillah

You can get ready for work without electricity:

heating up coffee (can used the gas stove);
taking a shower (can pour a few cold cups of water from the emergency reserve);
putting on make-up (if you wait long enough for the sun to come out);
checking on email (you simply don't);

BUT

you can't walk out the door in unpressed clothing.  No matter the societal disturbances, Egypt is still a place that values personal appearance.  

I truly believed that our power outage was confined to our little area.  Not so.  My workplace also was suffering, although it could use a generator.  That sounds like a complete fix but it isn't.  Priority operations were only allowed and that did not include air conditioning the classrooms.  Even when it climbed to 41 degrees Celsius (a stifling 105 Fahrenheit), the Smartboards remained on and the AC off.

For sure, the kids in my classes complained about no air conditioning.  I kept my stiff-upper-lip composure and said firmly, "I think you can see that I am wearing more clothes than you are but I'm not complaining.  I can't change the temperature; I can only change my attitude."

As I talked to other teachers in the staff room, I learned that the power outage was all over Egypt---not just a neighborhood or a city but the WHOLE country.  You mull that over for a minute.  The country of Egypt could not sustain electric power for its citizens.

Why?

The government said something about routine maintenance....cough...cough...really, they did say that at first.

It was adamantly denied to be terrorist activity.  Until the government denied it, I hadn't actually thought about it.  If there had been a quick thinking terrorist, they should have claimed responsibility right away.

For me, I think it's a big sign that the country is in worse shape than we all realized.  I have heard how poorer areas outside of the big cities go without power for long stretches.  I've always feared it happening here so we have stayed prepared.  However, as you prepare, you also hope that it won't ever happen.

My husband bore the worst of the situation by being home and having to manage a house full of people.  The two little children, the two heavily pregnant women, and his elderly mom were all his responsibility while his brothers went off to work.  He had no electricity and no water for the whole time I was at school.

Oh, didn't I mention that there was no water?

Yes, the water stopped as well.

When the water did start back, it was before the electricity did.  Our third floor apartment only receives water if the electric water pump is working.  Knowing that El-Kid and I would be returning from a hot day at school, my husband filled up huge, heavy buckets of water downstairs and lugged them upstairs.  He wanted us able to wash off.  God bless him.

My husband was so stressed out.  I heard that on the phone as I tried to figure out where our driver was.  Part of the problem today was that the cell phones were not reliable without the signal towers being fully operational.  Our phones calls necessitated trying two and three times before getting through.  That can drive you a little batty.

Our arranged pick up after school was an hour late.  It's hard to keep waiting outside in the little bit of shade thinking that he'll be coming soon---and then he doesn't.  Because my husband was losing it at home, I couldn't lose it at school.  A marriage is like that; only one of you can lose it at a time.

I sat at the gate and watched the moms coming to pick up kids.  It amazed me how many sweater sets, jean jackets, and layered looks I saw.  They looked great!  I was wilting in my light linen but they were breezing in with the fall season's latest looks.  I had to smile.  Subhanallah.



"Keep Calm and Mashahallah"


Out on the streets, tempers were flaring.  Rush hour on Thursday is always a bit rough---Rough Hour.  People want to get home and get the weekend started.  It was especially tense today when we were finally picked up.  I felt it and my taxi driver confirmed it.

I talked with him.  I don't always.  I said that whoever is responsible for the power outage will be responsible for the deaths happening in this heat.  You can't have a nation-wide outage on a hot day and not have deaths.  The elderly, the little babies, the asthmatic are some who really suffer.  I felt for those suffering worse than me.

When we did arrive back home, I was in emergency mode.  We jumped into action; using the last of the day's sun to light our most important tasks.  Sure, I know now that the electricity would come back on, but I didn't know it then.  I was really worried that it could be off through the night.

Alhumdullilah it came back on.  We filled up water jugs right away.  I plugged in all our phones so they could charge.  I plugged back in the refrigerator (and upon checking later found that our freezer food was OK).  I washed dishes and some clothes.  I also got the solar powered radio and lights up to the roof---just in case the power went out again.

El-Kid and I had a big clash then.  He fussed and fumed and I was patient but only up until a point.  He wanted to rant and rave about it not "being fair" and hating this country and this house and blah blah.  I brought the food upstairs, told him firmly to stop, popped in Spy Kids 3 and he chilled out.

Thankfully, the power waited until after the movie to go out again.  The power went out as it was getting dark.  We made wudu for magrib in the dark and then lied down on the beds.  I fell asleep as he played on his ipad.  It had been a long day.

It's cool now as the desert breeezes waft in.  The rotating fan cools me off even more.  I see my two guys asleep in the dark of the salon.  I sit near them at my desk enjoying electricity so much.  You never really appreciate something until you lose it.

"Alhumdulillah for everything, " I had told him in the taxi in the morning.  I love those quiet conversations we have on our rides to school.  "Alhumdulillah for everything we think is good and Alhumdulillah for everything we think is bad."

It's so true.

Too many people curse the power being out and cheer "Yaaay!" when it comes back on. They miss an opportunity to remember Allah in all the times.  Alhumdulillah for everything.






















5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm egypt. I remember being one of those pregnant women in the house who was responsible for cleaning and cooking for everyone when they came home in a house where the kitchen bathroom and sitting room gets no sunlight and the first floor also has no water...... oh egypt I acctually miss it when im not there.... and I am from one of those poorer villages.
Ummohamed

Party of 5 said...

Poor El-Kid, he s a kid after all.

The power outages and water stoppage was something that I got use to, although I think it was easy because I knew it wasn't home.
You deal well with these situations, mashaAllah.

Marie said...

When I am reading you, I feel like I could not have been able to handle it if I had been in your situation. Thank God, I did leave before being forced to travel to Egypt and live there.
You are doing fine and you are remaining grateful. That's the perfect way to be Yosra! We do learn from this kind of situation too...
Was it not too hard for El Kid to leave the US and come back in Egypt? Much love to you from France.

Sara Doll MUA said...

Asalamalaykum I'm so amazed at your blog sis I am going through a tough situation an wanted your naseeha could I speak to u private somehow?

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Ladies,

As Always, it's interesting to get your feedback. Thanks for writing :)


Marie, I've got to write more on El-Kid coming back. You are now the second person to ask me to write on this subject.

Sarah, I'm sorry for your troubles. We all have our times for them and though we would GLADLY give them away, they mold us into who we will be.

I am not getting in contact with readers. However, if you have a question for "Agony Aunt" you can write it and leave it in the comments. I can then print a reply on the blog--maybe next week. I do edit for length and clarity.

Love and Light to you and all!