Good morning! Have you removed your jackets and ties yet? Have you got around to turning your air-conditioning down to a moderate 25C? Have you opened your bedroom windows yet? Have you ever opened your bedroom windows?
The looming natural-gas shortage seems to have ballooned out of proportion in all the wrong ways to the point that it has become a farce _ a comedy of errors, so to speak.
The prime minister and her cabinet milked the crisis to their advantage last week. Pictured on the front page of The Newspaper You Can Trust, they were seen walking en masse to Government House, sans suit jackets, wearing just a shirt or blouse and broad smiles to show the brave effort they were making to conserve energy. It earned them more column inches that the crash-landing of an army helicopter during the joint Thai-US Cobra Gold military exercise which resulted in injuries to five people.
Senior politicians are now advocating that we lower the setting on our air-conditioners to 25C and extinguish all unnecessary lights.
Is that brilliant or what?
It's so brilliant that my kids have been doing it all their lives. It's amazing that government ministers have only just thought of it.
And is that all they can come up with?
Shouldn't we be past all this, these Boy Scout-ish "doff your tops" and "lights off" campaigns?
I distinctly remember the same thing being promoted maybe two decades ago, when men were encouraged to wear short-sleeved Phrarajathan shirts to the office, the thinking being that this formal Thai-style tunic was much more suited to our climate than Western business attire. And that was even before Mr Al Gore came out with his alarming documentary that got the world to sit up and take notice of the reality of global warming.
The members of our current cabinet must all have been very busy at the time and so missed all the fun.
Questions are now being raised as to why we are so dependent on supplies of natural gas from Myanmar and why we are blaming our neighbour to the west for the likely shortfall in April when the concession to tap that gas is partly owned by Thailand's own PTT. That state-owned enterprise should have a Plan B or C up its sleeve rather than landing the general public in a situation where we will have to pay the higher costs of buying a substitute fuel to generate electricity for the national grid.
Why aren't we looking at renewable sources like wind or solar energy, instead of discussing coal or resuscitating the idea of nuclear-power plants _ apart from the fact that someone stands to make a lot of money from the latter two options?
How much money, if any, is actually being spent on research into renewable-energy possibilities anyway?
It's all beyond me.
But I'm half inclined to hope that the threatened blackout does occur and the whole of Bangkok and its environs are left without power (except for hospitals, of course, where the need for electricity is totally understandable).
Just imagine! An entire day free of mobile-phone ringtones (can't charge the batteries), shuttered shopping malls, no lights, no air-con.
All the city's offices would have to close down, too, because practically everything is now done by computers. Pens would be retrieved from the dark, dusty corners of desk drawers, and perhaps even a manual typewriter or two.
Householders, the PM included, would have to open their windows and breathe fresh air. And if the heat proves too stifling, we would have to bring out those quaint little things called fans and create our own cooling breeze.
Petrol stations would have to close down, too, because the pumps are all electronic nowadays. So there would probably be fewer cars on the roads. We'd have to ride our bicycles to the market and buy small amounts of food _ only as much as can be eaten in one or two sittings (no fridges, remember?) _ to cook meals on our bottled-gas stoves or charcoal braziers.
And without televisions or smartphones, many people would be totally at a loss as to what to do with themselves. Perhaps they would even be forced to revive that ancient art form _ face-to-face conversation!
People who live in high-rises would suffer a bit, I imagine, having to climb all those stairs.
At night, we would have to resort to candles or oil lamps. Reading mightn't be such a good idea, since candlelight is rather too dim for that, but the blackout would probably enhance your love life! And you might even end up doing something you normally can't find enough time for: sleeping!
Me, I'm all prepared for the great power outage. I don't have any stairs to climb in my house. I always sleep with the windows open at night, minus air-conditioning. I'd be very happy to ply the streets of Bangkok on my trusty pink Barbie bicycle.
I have a nice collection of fans and scented candles to keep me going. And, incidentally, I love writing with pen and paper. I'm all set.
Meanwhile, let's see what other brilliant ideas our esteemed government can come up with.
Usnisa Sukhsvasti is the Features Editor of the Bangkok Post.
About the author
- Writer: Usnisa Sukhsvasti
Position: Features Editor