Bahrain grapples with confusion and chaos
Vol XXVII NO. 157 Tuesday 24 August 2004
By Amira Al Hussaini
Chaos and confusion. This is what yesterday's major blackout - sorry for using the word as it insults some officials - brought to Bahrain.
The phones did not stop ringing all morning, as if they ever do in our office. People who couldn't get through to the Electricity and Water Ministry expected to find instant answers to their questions with the GDN. They wanted to know what happened, how long will the cuts go on for, what to do and where to go. Somehow, we had lost our crystal ball and had no answers for them because we too found it difficult to speak to officials in the confusion which followed.
Among the callers was my granddad, who was stuck in his fourth floor office, because the lift wouldn't work.
"Take the stairs," I ventured.
"And how do I return back to my office if the power is not back soon. I will not climb up the stairs again," responded my old wise man.
Yes, climbing downstairs is easier than climbing upstairs and every person who has made his way to the top, on his own, would know that.
My young sister too announced that she will pamper herself with a candle-lit bath. Great, I thought to myself, the last thing I would want is a fire at home if the half-wit forgets to put them off afterwards.
Others decided to spend the day around pools. Those too were complaining that they weren't comfortable because the filters were not on. Those more privileged, who wanted to go out on boats too, had their dreams shattered when they discovered that their air-conditioned luxury yachts ran on fuel and most petrol stations were shut.
Contacts described themselves as being warm and "sitting like lemons" in their offices, too afraid to leave for cooler pastures, thanks to "gridlock traffic" because the lights were not working. Like we need the traffic lights to go off for the maniacs on the street to show off their acrobatic skills behind the wheel.
The area around Seef Mall and Al A'ali Shopping district was also literally "raided" by people, who were excused from their offices until the electricity was back on. Unfortunately, for them all, the malls too were SHUT. At least, they could test their driving skills in the mayhem caused by road works in that area.
Despite the complaints, our office was cooler than usual. The generators kicked in as soon as the power was off. Never mind we were confused, had no peace, felt the pain others were going through and could not order food because most restaurants were closed thanks to the blackout!