Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 20 March 2016





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Sunday’s blackout and a bright spot

This 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 the country.

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 functioning.

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.

Political traffic

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 a screen.

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 year.

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 henceforth.

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 away.

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.

Hot night

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!

Good deed

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 HIV-AIDS infected.

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.


Seylan Sure
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