Friday, March 27, 2009

Living Without Electricity

Making prayer wheels by the window light

Hand carved ring; You can see many more rings on our website

Currently, the power situation in Nepal is very serious. People in Kathmandu are getting by on only 8 hours of electricity a day. Rural electrification is much less predictable. The craftsmen that I work with usually sit near an open window so that they will have enough light to do their work. They use old fashioned treadle sewing machines not only for sewing but for jigsawing and grinding or polishing tasks. These are often set up outside on the street so that they will have enough light to work. I would like to bring them machinery to make their lives easier, but without a reliable energy source, it seems pointless.

Take a look at the ring above. Each ring is completely hand built without the use of machinery. I have watched as the craftsmen stand with a cutting tool and carve the designs into the silver, one piece at a time without even a pattern to go by. It is amazing to see how uniformly the pieces are created. If the lights are out, sometimes it is impossible for me to make my purchases and they have to close their shops. A kerosene lamp does not caste enough light to select jewelry.

Please, take a moment to observe VOTE EARTH by simply switching off your lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour, Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm. Light a candle and give thanks.

What would you miss most if there were no electricity? I would miss: laundry machines, reading at night, computer, radio, TV, water (we have an electric pump), heat (electric starter), cooked food (electric range).


  1. I have spent 3 months w/o electricity. Long story...but my Father chose to live a life leaving as little of a carbon foot print as possible (he began his brigade in the 70's). After my parents divorced, my brother and I spent summers in Florida with him. Honestly, I loved it! Basically it was a lot like camping. Hard work, but simple living. It was a very good experience and has made me more mindful...

  2. Jai Lakshmi!

    That's what everyone said when the lights went out during my visit to India. And the lights went out a lot!

    We're so spoiled here. Can't imagine getting by without all those things you mentioned. But of course we would/could adapt.

  3. I have turned some of my lights out, but not all and not the computer. I don't feel safe where I live, if I turn out all the lights. I spose some is better than none, right?
    Blessings, Star

  4. I would miss my computer and CDs/i-pod. The laundry would be a pain too. But it is amazing what people can do with very little...the ring is beautiful! This is a very nice post that goes hand in hand with Vote Earth...thank you!

  5. Yes, I turned off my lights tonite,but it's easy when it's your choice, not like Nepal.I had a Dad like thezeninyou and our house in mexico had no electricity, my siblings and then my own kids would say those were some of our best times! in that house. I think I would miss my lamp to read and knit by everynite and my computer!

  6. That's the spirit! I'd be proud to travel with all of you. There's nothing like a luke warm shower by candle light.

    I would like to hear the tales of no electricty growing up. We had a week in Silver Spring, MD without electricity because of a hurricane. There was a party at a different neighbor's house every night.


  7. There is so much I would miss.
    I did turn the lights off the other night for Earth hour and feel that could be an ongoing thing to do.
    I can not find a way to email me. I would like to tell you about a friend who sends solar flashlights to people who have no light...
    maybe you could email me...

  8. Oh, I would miss the computer, so much. :)

    I'm giving you another One-Minute Writer award, for your inspiring response to the "Entrepreneur" prompt. Congrats!!

  9. I spend the majority of my life without electricity in the backwoods of Northern Idaho on a fish farm. We used propane lanterns, listened to classic novels that were read over battery powered Am radio, heated our bath water on a propane range, and ate from our garden and root cellar.We had lots of different animals and later my dad went on to powering our house with hydroelectricity from a nearby stream. It was an amazing upbringing. Of course, I hated it at the time, but now that I am a little older I appreciate what my parents did for our family and our planet. They have become my modern day heros.