Sunday’s blackout and a bright spot
feline was in a tri-shaw returning to her holiday home in Anniewatte,
Kandy, from the Maligawa at 7.30 p.m. on Sunday when she noticed the
roads in darkness.
To compound her consternation the tri-shaw fellow was clueless about
by-roads leading out of town to the bingé area. Literally groping their
way past this Bodiya and that junction, she eventually arrived at a
candle-lit home and was told an island-wide power failure had gripped
No worry to her as she had dinner by candlelight and went to sleep,
much cooler than in Colombo. She read no papers while away for four days
and watched no television as the home displayed a huge set which was not
So until she returned home and read piled up newspapers, she was
unaware and unaffected by the ‘tripping of the substation at Biyagama’
and of course Norochcholai playing up. She loved the comparison made in
an editorial in a sister newspaper on Tuesday, March 15.
“The Chinese-built Norochcholai coal-fired power plant is like a Sri
Lankan university: it shuts down at the first sign of trouble and takes
a long time to return to normal.”
The next morning Menika phoned a friend who knows it all. He said it
could very well be sabotage as private producers feeding the national
grid at very high cost were to be discontinued.
Menika of course is rather single tracked in mind about matters Sri
Lankan. Her suspicious mind immediately went to a puppeteer who seems to
direct political traffic from a temple sometimes but all the time behind
Were he and his cunning coyotes trying to destabilise the country and
thus discredit yahapalanaya? The very unusual occurred. CEB Chairman
Anura Wijeyapala offered to resign over Sunday’s power outage, which was
the third since total blackouts in September 2015 and February 25 this
The resignation was not accepted and that is good, this cat mews.
Until investigations are complete he must remain in his seat. Prime
Minster Ranil Wickremesinghe publicly expressed regret and on Wednesday
night news, we had the Minister of Power, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya,
saying that he is 99.9 percent sure that no more power cuts will occur
This cat feels that that 0.1 percent is large! After the major
country-wide power failure many isolated incidents occurred confined to
pockets.This cat had power in the home she was staying in, while a
relative who had invited her to dinner, came instead to Menika’s place
of residence since her house was in darkness – just half a kilometre
Menika recalled a New Yorker writing to her in detail about the utter
confusion, nay turmoil the Big Apple was thrown into when a power
failure occurred on August 14-15, 2003 in northeast USA and Canada.
The Canadian Minister of Power blamed an outage in a nuclear power
plant in Pennsylvania. The fault was finally pinned on a north Ohio high
voltage power line brushing against overgrown trees causing it to shut
down. Can you imagine that against the utter chaos the city of New York
and other places were thrown into? The New Yorker said power failed just
as offices were closing so people were out on the streets in their
thousands with the subway shut down and taxis immobilised with gas
stations unable to pump petrol.
So this woman phoned her husband who also worked in Manhattan and
they walked to a friend’s flat on the 23rd floor of a high-rise
condominium.They bought and took in plenty of cooked food to find three
other couples were also asylum seekers in the same flat.Party time
togetherness sustained them through the night with some sleeping and
others awake. The couple I speak of had two children in a suburb in New
York State but very mercifully a Sri Lankan capable and unflappable
nanny managed the children alright.
Later in the night, the men had to climb down the many flights of
steps to bring in water as that was a fast depleting necessity. On one
descent the man Menika knows espied a taxi nearby.
Fortunately this taxi had petrol so running up the hundred and more
steps he brought his wife down and they were driven home. We in
developing Sri Lanka should thank our stars or God or Karma for making
us small in every way.The power cuts we’ve had do not turn our lives
upside down and cause major calamities like the power outage mentioned
above which affected 30 million people in the US and Canada and trapped
80,000 in the subway. Imagine climbing to the 23rd floor; imagine being
cut off from family for an entire night and not knowing when the parents
could get home; imagine how all facilities - marvellous usually - get
turned off when electricity is out.
We suffered a very hot night minus fans and air con, except those
with generators; fish and meat deep frozen may have had to be discarded,
but life is not totally upheavaled. We only hope that what happened in
New York after the power cut on July 13, 1977 does not happen here in
already over-crowded Sri Lanka. In New York nine months after July 1977
there occurred a baby boom!
A Tuesday newspaper headline said: ‘Army to protect CEB facilities;
Engineers rule out sabotage’. A question has been asked: why the army
and not the police? This cat, however, does not rule out sabotage. Her
feline mind is full of suspicion.On Thursday, the Joint Opposition had a
huge rally. Colombo was thrown askew and there was serious sound
pollution from the likes of Gammanpila and Weerawansa. Menika listened
to night TV news with ear plugs handy!
Menika saw a silver lining in these cloudy times of selfishly created
political disquiet. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between
Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and the principal of Trinity
College Kandy, Andrew Fowler-Watt, to admit the six-year-old boy who was
deprived of a school because parents in Kuliyapitiya protested against
having him in school with their children, suspecting him of being
This, at a time when victims of the disease work in offices and the
stigma against them has been eliminated in enlightened countries. Menika
in her day had much to do with schools in Kuliyapitiya hence her
surprise at the perversity of the people of that area. Principal,Trinity
College has gone two steps further: he has offered free tuition for the
boy throughout his school years. Such a person and also the young
Minister of Education, are to be appreciated and the country grateful.