Power cuts advantage in Ramdhan
In contrast to the usual complaints accompanying continuous power cuts in many Yemeni cities – the capital, Sana’a, foremost among them – many people have started to realize some advantages to the outages. People have started to get along and adjust their lifestyles to the circumstances around them and to the reality of being without power most, if not all, of the time.
Some told the Yemen Times that they are spiritually higher this year than any other year, although many people called this Ramdhan a “romantic” one. For many, eating Iftar – the meal to break the fast at sunset – by candlelight really is romantic. People have found it a good way to pass the stage of anger after more than five month of blackouts.
“Although I hate to admit it, the continuous power cuts give me more time for better worshiping, as Ramdhan is for worshiping,” said Hala Ahmed.
Ramdhan is a busy month. It’s indeed a month for Muslims to worship and strengthen their faith by fasting all the day, praying more and reading the holy Qura’an more. On the other hand, Ramdhan is also an occasion for more food, more savoury dishes and more sumptuous desserts. And recently, it has also become an occasion for new television series, with TV stations competing for viewers’ attention throughout the month.
“We usually fight on what to watch. There are too many choices in Ramdhan, which makes it hard to decide, so we spend more than six hours watching TV without interacting together,” said Ameera Al-Madhaji. However, Ameera said that during this Ramdhan, her family had to create more social activities because of the power cuts, “We have found different games that collect the family together to spend time.”
Marwa Al-Ansi agrees that the power cuts brought her family together. “Families spend more time together now, discussing many things. It’s a great opportunity for families to rebuild their relations after the political defections among family members in the last months,” said Marwa.
Marwa also said that the power cuts give her more time for worshiping and spiritual matters. “I now find more time to go to the mosque as I am more motivated to worship Allah in Ramdhan and also to change the house atmosphere. There is no power at home, and there is power at mosque.” She added, “We pray there and strengthen our relationships with our neighbors who usually attend different religious sessions at the mosque.”
Sharif Al-Ashwal said that Ramdhan is always an occasion for families to spend more time together, but the power cuts have made it even more so. Friends are gathering every day, not to watch TV, but to discuss different things, especially the political situation.
Moreover, Marwa Al-Ansi thinks that due to the power cuts Yemeni have also had a healthier Ramdhan than ever. “As there is no power and no refrigeration, people mostly stopped making desserts. So they eat healthier food instead,” she explained.
The power cuts have had economical benefits as well. Since large quantities of food can’t be stored without refrigerators, people have stopped buying in bulk for Ramdhan this year. Instead they have learned to buy what they would need each day.
Loay Al-Aswady said that the power cuts have changed consumers’ attitudes away from buying more than their daily needs. While in recent years, bulk shopping during Ramdhan has led to food price inflation, prices this year have remained stable.
Marwa agreed that the power cuts have changed people’s attitudes and the value people attach to their time. She thinks this change will continue even when the power returns.