WhispersRomantic nights [Archives:2005/871/Culture]

August 25 2005

By Fahmia Al-Fotih
In the same month of last year I was in London attending a conference on reproductive and sexual health. It was organized by the International Parenthood for Family Planning Federation and this year the same conference will take place, but in New York City. I won't talk about the conference, but about something related to the whispers of today.

The organizers of the conference held a feast for more seven hundred people in a famous hotel in London. The participants were amazed that the only lights were the thousands of candles around the room. I remember so many amazed faces, and hearing someone beside me remark “Wow, how marvelous, how romantic!”

I was not so amazed, because here in Yemen, we are used to candlelight, but not in such quantity. In Yemen the electricity goes off a number of times a day. So candles light all the houses of Sana'a!

Last week we were in a workshop that was held by the ministry of environment and water and with the cooperation of the Netherlands embassy. When one of the Dutchmen was about to make his presentation, the electricity went off. It was quite embarrassing, especially for the minister of the environment and water and our friends from Netherlands embassy! There was nothing to do, but use the generator.

A romantic sensibility is a necessity in Yemen. We eat by the light of candles. When we work, we are compelled to the romantic light of candles!

The ministry of electricity has a system of cutting power that gives each area a turn. So you know that eventually the electricity will vanish. We are always prepared. But sometimes it cuts the power randomly and these cuts confuse all and destroy all one's work and plans. That power could be cut while you work at the computer or while you're watching the news or favorite program. Housewives complain much more as the electricity is cut while they are washing the clothes and get afraid about the food in the fridge if the cut lasts for long time.

I always see and hear people complain about random electrical cuts that damage their electrical devices! The ministry of electricity should at least warn the poor citizens, to prepare themselves for repeated electrical cuts in order to decrease damage to electrical appliances. People can bear to live and work in the dark, but can't afford the expenses damage to their appliances causes.

Sana'a is the capital and face of Yemen as well as the first step for any visitor. You can imagine the shock that someone gets when he comes to Sana'a at night and see that complete darkness governs the capitals streets and alleys.

When will power cuts end? When will romantic nights give way to reliable nights with light?