Living in Quetta, the Amish way!

Published: August 23, 2015
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Officials of the Quetta Electricity Supply Company (Qesco) said a fault had developed in the main 220kv transmission line supplying electricity to the province from the Guddu power plant. PHOTO: AFP

Officials of the Quetta Electricity Supply Company (Qesco) said a fault had developed in the main 220kv transmission line supplying electricity to the province from the Guddu power plant. PHOTO: AFP I think the Amish people should move to to Quetta. They won’t have to 'avoid' electricity because it won’t be available.

If I said that residents of Quetta live an almost Amish lifestyle, would you believe me?  

“What is an Amish lifestyle?”, you ask.

For those who don’t know, the Amish are a small Christian sect or tribe mostly living in North America and Canada. They are known for their simple and old-school lifestyle and can be recognised from afar by their clothes and appearance. Their men are usually attired in a suit and a hat while their women wear full skirts, mostly reaching to the ankle and may have their heads covered with a bonnet. If you have ever seen Little House on the Prairie, you will know what I mean.

The Amish avoid the use of modern technology and gadgets or rather, their faith prohibits the use of such items. For instance, they use a horse buggy rather than an automobile for transportation and they don’t use cell phones or the internet. In fact, the one time I saw an Amish couple at a railway station in the US, they did not seem too happy to be travelling via train and I could only guess that it had to be a dire emergency to make them take the train.

Since they shun modern appliances and gadgetry, their main occupations include farming, woodworking, harness making, blacksmithing, buggy-making and repairing – just like the people in the 17th or 18th century.

And since people before the 19th century didn’t really have access to electricity and the Amish seem to follow their customs, most of them tend to avoid using electricity.

This abstinence from using electricity is the main reason why I am comparing them to people in Quetta. People in Quetta also don’t use much electricity, the difference is, however, that while the Amish avoid using electricity, we, in Quetta don’t get electricity in the first place.

As a result, lifestyles in Quetta have changed over time. There have been more than a few changes in my own house due to the absence of electricity. I don’t hear the hum of the vacuum cleaner because my mother uses a broom to sweep the floors nowadays. Not that I mind, but I am quite sure the vacuum cleaner would have been more convenient for my mother. Even the use of household electronics – mainly the TV and computer for me – has dropped a great deal, and this has affected my daily routine quite a bit. Although living without them has increased my outdoor activities, I still prefer a life with electricity.

Last year, my area did not have electricity for more than half a day. And this happened every single day. The power is cut early in the morning and isn’t restored until evening. Everyone I know is facing the same issue and people are getting increasingly annoyed. And the worst part is that no one is sure why this is happening. Every person tells a different story. The most popular – and originally believed by many – is that some main electric pole had been destroyed and was being fixed. If that was the case it should have been fixed within three to four days at the most. But it wasn’t. This year, another transmission blew.

When does this stop?

But it’s been almost a month and yet the problem remains unsolved.

And so I think that the Amish would feel perfectly at home in Pakistan, Quetta in specific. The cultural gap would be at a minimal and they would fit in perfectly! They won’t have to avoid electricity anymore, because it simply wouldn’t be available. They won’t have to avoid using modern gadgets because, even if they are available, they won’t run without electricity! Problem solved.

People won’t look at them curiously if they ride around in a buggy because we already use tangas (horse drawn carts) and donkey carts. They would even find employment easily since we still have menial professions like black smiths, cobblers, carpenters and farmers. Their sense of modesty and simplicity will probably even appeal to the religious and conservative sections of society! It truly is a match made in heaven.

But the fact is that the residents of Quetta aren’t Amish.

Life without electricity is really hard and inconvenient. People are unhappy and frustrated and it is affecting our everyday life. And affect surpasses the households and seeps deep into businesses too. Most businesses that depend on electricity have been forced to switch to generators that run on petrol and diesel. With the ever-increasing fuel prices, this means rising costs for businesses and lower margins. Electricity and gas are basic necessities and the government of Pakistan has failed in providing it to us. It is no wonder people do not want to invest in Balochistan.

I do hope that the government takes note of this problem and fixes it as soon as possible because we, the people of Quetta, are tired of being Amish.

 

Muhammad Emmad

Muhammad Emmad

A resident of Quetta city, he is an intermediate student, a teacher, a speaker, a volunteer/activist, a blogger, KL-YES Alumnus, and a member of PUAN (Pak-US Alumni Network). He tweets as @emmad_jabri (twitter.com/emmad_jabri)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Salma

    Muhammad, Seems like life is not too difficult for you, since you do not mind your mother does all the work for you. You must take over from your mother and start sweeping and mopping the floors. My My what a mind set it is. Get it out of your system my lad.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    Comparison with Amish life style is absolutely wrong. They don’t aspire for modern utilities. They are not forced to live like that, they do it with choice. Our problems are mismanagement, corruption, hypocrisy and lying with ourselves.Recommend

  • cautious

    Amish wouldn’t feel at home in Pakistan — as American Christians they would be subject to blatant discrimination and targeted for kidnapping and possible death.
    .
    Amish don’t need electricity to be happy – maybe that’s the lesson to be learned.Recommend

  • Muhammad Emmad

    Dear Salma,
    I don’t know if you are aware of it, seems like most of the people have lost it, but there is a thing called “Sense of Humour” Recommend

  • pk

    Don’t worry you will be liberated soon. Till then take a few lessons from Bengalis.Recommend

  • Salma

    Some sense of humour all throughout I agree. And, quite innocent one too, I should say when the lad, a mere student, and who is a teacher blogger and what not is happy to see his mom mopping the floor. But do you see that this innocence does reflect a mind — Recommend

  • Quetta ka Jawan

    Get a UPS and enjoy electricity for 4-5 hours of load-shedding. Simple.Recommend

  • Syd

    Not sure if the people commenting are trying to be stupid on purpose. It is a brilliantly made analogy. I am sure the writer would probably have access to a UPS but that most of the city clearly could not possibly afford a UPS. Its been years since the insurgency started, about time government should put up a power plant within the vicinity of Quetta city. After all if you can put one all the way near Faisalbad and Shiekhupura you can surely put one near Quetta.Recommend

  • Muhammad Emmad

    I have a question. Did you actually read the whole article?
    If Yes, you wouldn’t have asked this question.Recommend

  • Muhammad Emmad

    You are the 1st, who actually got what I meant. But seems like most have failed to grasp the essence.
    Actually I’m among those who can’t afford a UPS. And about that power plant, I couldn’t agree more.Recommend

  • Anonymouse

    Salma, read the blog again and have someone explain the reasoning behind it to you, clearly you have missed the whole gist of the blog. If he mentioned his mom cleaning the floor, does not mean he doesnt help around the house.Recommend

  • Imran

    Whereas I feel your pain you do realize Qesco has no money to fix its issues since 63% of the people in Quetta don’t pay their electricity/gas bills. Hence the issue. It is causing losses to Sui South as well. That of course does not excuse the government from putting up another power plant as needed and then making sure that there are very few non paymentsRecommend

  • Miyagi Jr.

    Don’t worry, you will get used to it, once you realize you been talking to sheeple all your life, so far.Recommend

  • Salman Yahya

    Which is the happening? please explainRecommend

  • quettawala11

    Finally something about Quetta,I think most people even tend to forget that Balochistan is a province in their country.I agree about the electricity issue.Whats worse is that the official Cantt doesn’t face the same problems.Talk about double standards.Why we even have load shedding here is quite mind boggling.I mean what percentage of electricity as a whole do we even use compared to say other provinces like Sindh.Throw in some religious fanatics in the mix and a dead social life and you get Quetta.Then when people rebel against the social order of things,they wonder where did we go wrong.Recommend

  • Salma

    Oh may be he does. May be he does not. He does mention that even a modern gadget like vacuum cleaner is meant to be used by his Mom. Not that I am blaming him. It is just that motehrs doing such work is taken for granted. I repeat, there is some sense of humour in the article.Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    I did read the whole article and I agree with Ch. Allah Daad. Your comparison with Amish lifestyle is completely irrelevant.

    Amish follow their lifestyle out of their own free will while we are being forced to compromise our lifestyle. Also, the Amish are content with what they have (and plenty of), in direct contrast with our situation.Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    Oh dear, I’m inclined to ignore the flawed pretence of the article but this just took the cake:

    “I don’t hear the hum of the vacuum cleaner because my mother uses a broom to sweep the floors nowadays. Not that I mind”Recommend

  • QB

    Good one. Loved it how you have made the comparison. Keep up the good work lad ! :)Recommend

  • a r modak

    the film WITNESS also showcases an Amish lifestyle………….in one scene a family even refuses a blood transfusionRecommend

  • tungi

    its not funny but i actually didnt know people in quetta actually could read and write! tribune newspaperRecommend

  • disap

    You’re comment about Quetta and its people is quite repugnant. Being from Quetta I find it gross and repulsive. Some ignorant people living in the west would make the same foolish assumptions about Pakistan as a whole even.Recommend

  • Muhammad Emmad

    Thanks :)Recommend