World Senior Day 2022: Shedding light on electricity and water outages in the daily life of a couple in Beirut

Bambi just discovered that today is the World Senior Day. Happy Day to all the seniors of the world, here at home and abroad, to begin with.

This being said, she refuses to go to bed without shedding the light on the daily life of two seniors living in Beirut Lebanon. Indeed, the idea of this post has been in the back of her mind since her return from a trip to the Middle East three weeks ago. Now is the time to do so, she is convinced.

At first, Bambi thought of writing about two unnamed seniors. Today, she changed her mind. She will still write about a typical day of their lives, but she will give them fictional names. She hopes the latter will help in offering some recognition, dignity, and love to them and, through them, to ALL their fellow seniors in Lebanon. She will call them Nour (for light) and Adwam (for most durable).

The power coming from the government does not have a schedule. It is often absent (except during the final games of the FIBA Asia Cup!). In contrast, the electricity from the private provider usually has a more fixed schedule. Here is the daily timeline, and its consequences:

  • 6:30 AM to 7:30 AM: Power back after a dark night. The source of electricity is from the private provider to whom Adwam and Nour pay a high fee and from whom the service is neither optimal, nor sufficient to turn air conditioning on. As a reminder, we are in August and it is the most humid month of the year in Beirut.
  • 7:30 AM to 10:30 AM: No power from neither the government, nor the private provider.
  • 10:30 AM to 1PM: Power is back.
  • 1 PM to 5 PM: Good-bye power; no electricity from neither the government, nor the private provider. It is too hot without even a fan turned on.
  • 5 to 7 PM: Government-electricity is back. Luckily, the TV can be turned on for some entertainment.
  • 7 PM to 10 PM: No electricity (unless there is a surprise from the government).
  • From 10 PM to 1 AM: Power back from the private provider. Sometimes, the power comes with wrong cycles and risks ruining the fridge and other house appliances. Luckily, Adwam has a clever solution to this problem. This came after they had many appliances damaged due to a mistake in the power supply. Sometimes, you can be surprised by a power outage during this period, but the provider realizes it and re-sends power. At other times, something goes wrong For instance, heating water to take a shower can cause a power outage. Sick or not, Adwam and his wife have to get out of their apartment to try to figure out and fix this problem. Of course, they need to act fast before the end of this period of time where they are supposed to have the power.
  • After 1 AM: Total darkness. No power from neither the government, nor the private provider. Often, Nour risks falling down while walking to the washroom, as it is still too dark in their apartment, especially with high buildings around. Their three charged lights have lost their batteries by now. In one night/early morning only, Nour did fall down three times, imagine. It was too dark and her fever fighting the coronavirus did not help. Now that she is healed, like usual, she cannot turn the washing machine on (by the way, forget about the microwave, this is a mere luxury now). Needless to say that she literally cannot even see what clothes she is putting on. Forget about the make-up. Searching for important items like medication is more challenging in the darkness. When we are sick, nights always seems longer. Imagine how the nights have been for both Adwam and Nour, fighting Covid in the darkness. Luckily, they have each other, but they do NOT have the basics of a decent quality of life: Neither power nor drinking water. Can you imagine? At least, they still have a sense of humour and creativity. For instance, Nour jokes about the power and Adwam invented a way of making one fan turn completely without being on. How? Simply by aiming their other fan at it at the right angle. Of course, this does not help as it sucks energy, but it is amusing and VERY clever.

Well, that was the daily timeline of the electricity for this couple of seniors. What about the drinking water now? Well, Adwam and Nour are now living from 5 to 7, and even 10 long days without any water. Can you imagine? Of course, they can purchase large bottles of drinking water. They do so. They are heavy to carry and install, especially with a back ache or when we have Covid-19. Needless to say how expensive it is since the Lebanese currency is literally worth nothing now.

Bambi will stop here. What else could be said about what Lebanon’s seniors are going through? They worked all their lives to see their bank savings stolen and their quality of life reduced to the extent described above. Bambi spared you the struggles with access to healthcare and to medication (this has been reported in earlier posts).

To conclude this post, “Happy” World Senior Day Adwam and Nour and everyone in Lebanon. Take good care, please… and hang on! If she may, Bambi would like to offer you all two songs, one in French and the other in Lebanese-Arabic. The first is beautiful and moving where Mr. Nicola Ciconne is honouring a senior neighbour. As for the second, by Mr. Ghassan Rahbani, it is called “Chargeur” [Give me the charger]. It is freaky if this is the appropriate description, just like your daily life without power… Thanks to Mr. Rahbani for illustrating how absurd the life of the average Lebanese citizen is. As for you, dear readers of this blog, thank you and have a good one (night or day, depending on where you live)!

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