A few weeks ago, there was big fanfare when cities around the world reduced the electricity consumption – for a night, no more – by turning off non-essential lights for that timeframe; I doubt very much whether street lighting, traffic signals, residential air-conditioning, etc were targeted.
Little do the industrialized nations, who at the drop of the hat remind the world of the pressures the BRIC nations are putting on the global energy supply, know that we “Third-Worlders” are way way ahead of them at this conservation game (though like the proverbial rabbit, we are taking forty winks at the wheel now)! I grew up studying for at least half of my high-school exams under candlelight, and I am pretty sure that the situation is not that much better in most cities in India, but for the four (five?) metros and a few other big cities. Needless to say, the only time I spent in an air-conditioned room was at the computer terminals at my undergraduate college (US: school) and during the TOEFL exams at USEFI, Bombay!
Reminded me of the few years I lived in a North Indian “monasterial” state! Once in a few days I would be sent on an errand to get 200 grams of biscuits (US: cookies) from the store when we had visitors (only 200 gm because I had a propensity to wolf down the leftover biscuits). Anyway, the सेठ would put his (clean or dirty??) hands into this big aluminium box (I would say 30cmx30cmx45cm or so), remove some biscuits, weigh them in a paper bag (ठोंगा) made of either brown paper or recycled old newspapers, weigh them and hand the bag over to me. imagine how much more non-recyclable materials are used for similar transactions now!
I know it is practically impossible to bring back that time, and the simplicity of the trade back then, either in India or in the USA… but does that stop me from dreaming?!!