friend from Armenia visited us at our home. We explained to him our happiness
at finally arranging for “ishtirak”, which is a membership one gets from the
neighborhood electrical generator owners, in order to fill in the
20+ hour gap in government electricity each day. “So now we have three sources
of electricity: EDL (“official” power), the building generator (four hours a
day most days), and “ishtirak” (except for 6 hours a night and two one-hour
breaks during the day). He looked at me a bit incredulously and said, “So you’re
saying that you have three different sources of power, but it still doesn’t add
up to 24-hours of electricity!”
The supplemental power breaker box, with our thrown
circuit-breaker, identified as "Père Nichan".
(15 Jan. 2022 - Khalil Badawi)
I guess I never thought of it that way…
|The long, long line, and the long, long trip |
down to the breaker box, just beyond
that car... (18 Jan. 2022 - Geitawi-Beirut)
Yet you can find many unsung people
who behave in an opposite manner, and act humanly, sharing things they could be
selling to generate some income. A man who over the summer had stockpiled firewood
for his village home, though currently seeking a job, decided he had enough wood
to warm his house this winter, and so he started giving the excess firewood to
needy families so they could stay warm. These are the people, the meek, who are
the true inheritors of the land (cf. Matt. 5.5).
My current office - anywhere I can be near a heater.
(22 Jan. 2021 - Geitawi-Beirut)
The people of Lebanon have been left power hungry, in a different sense than what we usually mean. That which they need to live, to work, to learn, to take trips, to refresh, all of that which is dependent on adequate, consistent and affordable electric power is being denied them. They do not desire to control others, to bleed them dry. They just wish to live some semblance of a normal life. So what can they do? Shiver in silence, or pay a neighborhood supplier for a bit of supplementary power.
|A beautiful winter sky, and a break |
from the cold, stormy days.
(18 Jan. 2022 - Geitawi-Beirut)
“Trial & Error” is the name of the game you play in Ishtirak Follies before arriving at the esoteric knowledge of what is approved and what is taboo. If the circuit breaker (“disjoncteur” in the Lebanese dialect) is right outside your home, consider yourself lucky. Pop out the front door, walk over to the box, switch it back on, and you’re done. In our case, when an overload happens, it means you flip off whatever was on, go down 6 floors, walk to the end of the back street, walk back up 6 floors (since the building’s electricity – and thus the elevator – is off the majority of the time), and then you can enjoy your light and heater!
Here’s a real-life example of how we’re playing Trial & Error in the Ishtirak Follies:
· Forgetting for a moment to ask yourself “What kind of electricity are we on”, you flip the switch on the electric kettle and everything goes dark. Go down 6 floors, go to the end of the street, find the switch for your apartment and turn it back on, go back and up. You say: “Let’s keep the kettle unplugged so we don’t forget next time.”
· Heating up some leftovers in the microwave oven, forgetting to ask that same question. “Click”, everything’s off. Down 6 floors, take a walk, click on, walk back, climb 6 floors.
· “I wonder, can I check our electricity amperage with this meter?” Pop. Go down, go over, flip it on, come back, climb up.
|At last, my favorite liver kebab place is back |
in operation! (18 Jan. 2022 - Geitawi-Beirut)
· Two space heaters are on low power, the hot water tank is switched on, the toilet flushes, the water pump engages, and... Click! Down you go.
· “I’ll leave the space heater on to keep things warm while I run up the street and get a falafel sandwich.” Entering the apartment with my lunch, all is dark… Oops, I left the heater on high power, I forgot to switch off the hot water tank, and the leaky toilet probably started up the water pump, sending the “ishtirak” over the edge. I decide to eat my falafel in the dark, then take my exercise trip down to the “disjoncteur”.
· And in those brief times when the electricity comes on, we play a different game: “Kahraba (electric company) Follies”, running around and turning on the equipment that requires full power, like the washing machine, the hot water tank, heating in more than one room, etc. See above list for details.
|LebCat 47: Just enjoying the warmth. It's |
free, so far. (11 Jan. 2022 - Mar Mikhael)
And while all of this goes on and on, there
are still individuals and groups, here as well as in other countries, who wish only
well to the Lebanese. Their material support has empowered dedicated teachers,
social workers, religious leaders, shopkeepers, tradespeople and regular people
with beating hearts and warm consciences to reach out and bring an atmosphere of
caring to the peoples’ daily life. Because of them, in these days there are
still smiles, greetings to passersby, caring words and the Lord’s presence all
around. It may not solve the condition of Lebanon’s electrical grid, but it
will certainly renew the power, and a bit of the hope, of many. I’m thankful to
God that we can be a part of that power supply! [LNB]