Initial impressions of Kathmandu: Check your privilege

Kathmandu, Nepal is a colorful place rife with activity and buzz. Arriving around noon to smiles and warm, welcoming hugs from Rupak Koirala and Sarah Levine Weinstein of the Jane Goodall Institute Nepal, the long trip was suddenly worth it.

The first, most jostling thing I noticed (besides the absolute traffic malay) is the practice of load-shedding here. I knew it was something to consider from Skype calls with Rupak while I was still in the States but very much did not expect it the first, second, third, and fourth time it happened. Basically, in each area of the city, on some sort of random schedule, in order to provide electricity to all people, for as much of the day as possible, they cut the power for everyone in bursts. 

Nothing brings out a sense of privilege in a techie more than not having access to electricity.

Three days in and I'm still experiencing a slight sense of anxiety every time it happens, as if something is wrong. Maybe it's because when the power goes out in the US it's because you didn't pay your bill, someone's hurt because they hit a pole with their car, or because severe weather has taken out the whole neighborhood grid. All scenarios that would be, in other words, bad. 

The practice of load-shedding means to share the electricity, something I'm not used to doing. At all. It reminds me that no matter where in the world I am, energy is an issue. It's a different issue in the U.S. where we worry about coal mining and the (often mis-)handling of coal ash. Here it's about having power at all and, upon further thought, I think it's good for all of us to learn to share. The Earth's finite resources are just that; They're finite. 

Next time you walk out the door with the TV or lights on, remember that not everyone gets such privilege so be careful not to exploit this privilege by leaving them on. That's super selfish. Turn them off because there's only so much to go around and there's a real effect in this world when you do. If you don't want load-shedding to be a reality back home, don't leave these things on because you just forgot and definitely not because you're just lazy. That's never a good look on anyone, especially not those of us who enjoy energy availability all day, everyday.