Our lives today depend so much on electricity. The fridge, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, even to pump water. Most of our entertainment and work are also digital and internet-based; e-book, YouTube, social media, e-mails, Google Docs. So when the electricity’s down, what are we supposed to do?
On a breezy summer Sunday of August 4th, Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta experienced a total blackout for more than 7 hours. In fact, the whole island of Java (and reportedly Bali) had a spreading blackout, which also affect some mobile device providers’ inability to emit signal.
The blackout also affect major daily transportation modes, such as trains and subway, so only buses operated normally. In other words: no electricity, no signal, no internet. Despite recovery efforts, the State Electricity Company (PLN) was still unable to provide electricity for 7 hours (more or less, depending on the area).
This was what most Jakarta residents did during the blackout: flooding the malls to kill time with some internet connection and typical mall entertainment. It’s just natural for city residents, especially a capital city with not much natural resources (let alone refreshing scenery) and high crime rates (which makes it unsafe to be outdoors).
Those who were lucky enough to get connected would share their complaints on social media. Some made memes about lighting a candle to ngepet--a dark magic ritual of gathering money by turning one of the participants into a boar demon, while a candle would symbolize the boar’s life--my favorite meme.
Most just complained to PLN while saying how the blackout as “going back to ancient times” featuring a picture of primordial man with rocks and all.
Personally, I would say that joke is a bit of an exaggeration. During the blackout, me and my mom spent the disconnected time (as it happened mostly during day time) to read books and take a nap. I found myself finishing almost 200 pages of book and writing down my thoughts on a piece of paper.
I was quite proud of myself for being creative with my time. So on the bright side, it really became the slow Sunday everyone’s talking about.
However, as night came, things got complicated. Me and my mom went to the nearest supermarket to stroll around mindlessly while getting some snacks and candles. As expected, the supermarket were out of candles. My mom was lucky enough to snatch the last pack of a ‘useful’ one (the rest were just small scented candles and birthday candles).
We hung around for quite some time, but there was not much to enjoy since the place was so crowded and the air conditioning was dimmed to a minimum. The nearest Starbucks was overcrowded and the line went out of their front door.
When we got home, we found it hard to sleep. We opened the windows and slept under a mosquito net. My mom kept fanning because it was still hot, while I finally decided to sleep on the floor because it was cooler.
Whilst killing time, trying our best to fall asleep, me and my mom chatted about random things. She recalled how back in her days there was no internet, not even a telephone in the house. Eventually, we wondered how people had survived living without electricity a hundred years ago.
Fact is, some remote areas in Indonesia are still unable to access electricity. According to Indonesia’s Ministry of Electricity and Mineral Resources (2019), around 2.500 villages still have no electricity. It’s just ironic that, when calculated, the electricity needed to power a regular mall in Jakarta could power a whole village.
When the lights went on, me and my mom quickly turn on the water pump and charged all our mobile devices. We’ve planned an urgent to-do list for when the electricity is back before dawn and if the electricity is still down by Monday morning. Cases like this always remind us to break down the priorities and have backup survival plans.
Then, not long after the lights are on again and we’ve done our to-do list, I heard my mom snored.