If there is one recent event that Pakistan unanimously resented and protested, it is the massive power breakdown that plunged the country into a widespread blackout on Monday (January 23, 2023). The glitch that knocked the power out of systems early morning stretched terminally into a day-long disruption of essential communication services. To sum up the chaotic and gloomy event in a statement shorn of verbosity, shall we say the Monday blues attended us with a prolonged blackout in full bloom?
Did you suffer from excess emotion yesterday as you regretted not having recharged your phone enough for the day? Or maybe you’re one of those who tried to preserve that last precious percentage of battery when it became clear that power wouldn’t be back any time soon?
You were not alone!
Sharing our stories of Pakistan’s first major power breakdown of 2023, here’s how our team at Media Matters for Democracy coped with and worked through the connectivity disruptions and blackout of epic proportions that had the country gripped throughout the day.
Yasal Munim, Senior Program Manager
The anguish and annoyance which is triggered by your Instagram feed refusing to refresh was my standard feeling throughout the day. Spotty data and network issues made it difficult to even book an inDrive to work so I called a friend in another city to help me. Nothing like a power outage to bring people together. Your unhealthy dependence on anything doesn’t really hit you unless it’s taken away, and now I am really rethinking my internet consumption patterns.
Usman Shahid, Project Coordinator
The biggest challenge was to work out how to put news out there. The internet was being terrible in Karachi, so I reached out to my colleagues in the federal capital to help me do the bit: just get the content across and see it posted, right? How very wrong I was to think it would be that simple! The annoyance soon wore itself into exhaustion as I waited for the first story to be delivered in bits and pieces through text messages and intermittent specks of connectivity, all the while witnessing my laptop nearing a blackout of its own. However, the awkward realisation that I didn’t have sufficient internet to report on internet disruption itself did give me a few laughs.
Moaz Bhangu, Program Manager
I had some video editing to finish on Monday when the entire country was without power — and my Mac was on 35% battery when I started. Within a couple hours my laptop and both phones were on the brink of dying. When the UPS gave out around 4pm I considered switching to mobile data but knowing how much battery it would consume I simply decided to wait it out. The most ironic thing is probably that without getting any work done it was still one of the slowest Mondays of my life.
Ayesha Khalid, Program Coordinator
I had pulled a sickie on Monday but of course it went by without any power. I woke up to zero signals with only 19% phone battery, which meant I couldn’t Netflix away those dark hours. I took refuge in breakfast, but had only a piece of toast with fried egg. The most agonising part was that I couldn’t prepare my tea properly (because it was too dark, of course!). Hence, the only thing that makes my mornings less miserable was completely ruined because of the blackout. I waited until 4pm with my phone battery at 4%, and finally got some relief in form of samosas and jalebis!
Jareeullah Shah, Web Developer
I had power backup at home so the breakdown didn’t affect me much in the morning. Luckily, I somehow made it work at office too, where I spent most of my time helping out a colleague from Karachi putting together and posting some urgent news stuff — you must’ve guessed what it was about? The real problem emerged when it came to our cricket match that was scheduled for the evening. How do you find out if your friends are still coming and who has already arrived at the venue, and whether you should be there yourself? The match did take place though, and by the time we were done, power had been restored.
Momina Mindeel, Program Manager
Monday, January 23rd 2023, was supposed to be the day I was going to finish all my pending tasks, produce some great writing and set intentions for the rest of the week. By 9:30am, I felt the motivation die a little so I convinced my mind that taking a hot shower was most likely going to fix everything in life. I went to turn on the geyser, and found out that there was no electricity. Now, I couldn’t work until I had taken a shower and also because my gadgets were dying a slow, painful death anyway. So, I did what I could; I ate cheese. Then it occurred to me; perhaps some guided meditation would help, and that’s when I ran out of data (yes, I live in a movie and what about it?) and did not have internet to buy more internet. I ate some more cheese and was asleep before the electricity came back. Is it back yet?
There have been many power breakdowns in Pakistan, but we are sure this one isn’t going to dissolve into the routine fug of our memories any time soon!