There was a time when I was keenly aware of how much electricity I used: None. For nine months, I lived so far off the grid in Nepal the very idea that an invisible power could travel through skinny lengths of flexible metal to make a flame-free fire that could light up the night seemed nothing short of magical.
When the monsoon let up, a friend and I made an arduous three-day trek from Lake Rara to the home of a Peace Corps volunteer who had running water and occasional electrical power supplied by a generator. We arrived at dusk to hear the sound of urgent voices coming from his home. Crisis! Blackouts! Declared state of emergency! I thought we had coincidentally arrived back to civilization on the very brink of its collapse. I panicked. I wanted to run. I suggested we head for the hills again. Turns out, Armageddon was actually a fairly routine broadcast of BBC radio. It took me a while to to get used to being, once again, plugged-in. For weeks, I was living lyrics of a yet to be written Talking Heads tune: tense and nervous, couldn't relax, a real live wire.