The above headlines all came from last week’s edition of The Times of Central Asia (free copies of it can be found at Fatboy’s, among other places), and seem to provide a little bit of background behind why we here in Bishkek suffered extensive blackouts nearly every day last week. Granted, this edition of the Times was published a good week before the Bishkek blackouts began, but obviously energy shortages – both gas and electric – are of big concern in the Stans these days.
We had all assumed that our Monday blackout was a fluke; however, by the end of the week we had all grown accustomed to teaching by candlelight, and my students had (mostly) stopped laughing at the absurd sight of me, teaching in my LED headlamp. One of my older students told me that the city of Bishkek is shutting off power to different grids of the city at different times each day, because the electronic generators are overworked. Rolling blackouts, I suppose. Not really what you’d expect from capital city of an allegedly developed country, but I guess the Californians weren’t expecting it back in 2002 either.
While other Stans are suffering from shortages of natural gas – and from the fact that Uzbekistan, which exports natural gas to the rest of the Stans recently upped its prices dramatically – Bishkek at least doesn’t seem to be suffering from gas shortages as of yet. So heat, hot water, and cooking-gas are still available in plenty. Meanwhile, I’m getting quite accustomed to doing things by candle and LED light!