THE thought has occurred to me before, but only in passing. The other night, though, when a heavy rain storm cut the power supply right off in the thick of the night, the thought stuck.
Electricity going off meant a number of things were seriously compromised – my phone stopped charging at about 25%, the internet connection on my home wireless had gone right off as well, and the laptop, at 100%, would be down to about 30% by the time I got out of bed in the morning.
Meanwhile, I would have to bathe in cold water since I always go in after the wife and children, and my mini-plan to apply an early morning hair trim would have to be postponed. Also, if the electricity didn’t get reconnected on time I wouldn’t be having my crucial early morning coffee.
All these possibilities went through my mind in a matter of seconds after the electricity had gone off, but only this one thought stayed with me.
Even as I was thinking through the series of inconveniences, my eye was on the stand fan that was whirling to a slow stop. It came to a standstill as soon as the last option of inconveniences above had made itself clear, and I said a quick prayer that electricity would be back soon.
At least enough so that the fan could run.
The Electric Fan – we are never going to replace it.
If there is one item that I need functional between one o’clock and six o’clockin the morning, it’s that fan. I need it to tackle the unbearable heat that Uganda has been serving up since 2015 began. I need it to blow away the mosquitoes that keep whizzing around my ears like the side of my head is a Formula One track.
That’s the one piece of technology I do not do well without for just one night.
My phone not charging for a few hours means I will leave home with a low or dead battery, but I can charge it in the car, or in the office, or in a cafe over breakfast. With the fan off, I simply cannot sleep for the stifling heat right there and then.
With the internet access devices off, I have enough alternatives to last me a night – if the regular wireless is off, I can plug in a standby router, or tether my phone connection, or fall back to a dongle that I swear I must have somewhere in the house. But if the fan is off, I have no recourse besides flapping my arms, and I am defeated after three or four of those.
Laptop battery dead? To the iPad! And that’s until I get to the office; but what do I do about the fan chasing away all those loud mosquitoes? I can’t even switch the lights on to hunt them down because, remember, the electricity is off!
The bathing and coffee? A gas stove sorts that problem out, eventually, but nothing will get the fan running, ever.
It’s that one piece of technology that we have not yet advanced from in a large way when it comes to home appliances. You can drive your Range Rover home following Google Maps on the newest Galaxy or iPhone and still, in the middle of the night, have to depress that button on the top of the damn fan to make it rotate.
Of course, I know about the ones with remote controls, and I’ve had a number of them rotating in my bedrooms over the years, but for some reason I always seem to have this one here. The one with the ungainly button on the top to make it swivel, and the plastic band holding the two ends together, and the three-rotor blade to propel that soothing breeze in my night-time direction.
The Electric Fan.
Even if someone introduced an app to give it commands, it would be wasted. And it can’t properly be replaced by the air conditioner for a number of reasons – including the cost of electricity and the fact that the air con unit will be just as dead when electricity fails.
More importantly, though, the Electric Fan plays a very crucial role in my sleep arrangements – that of simulating the sound of a rain shower so that I can enjoy that sleep that one has during the windy rain.
And therein lies some irony: The Electric Fan; technology that the majority of us are sticking with because it simulates the most raw feature of nature!