Zen and the art of zapping

On a random and unnecessary trip to the DIY store just for the sake of going for a drive in our car (which I love) and to justify said trip we bought some mosquito zappers recently. They look like small tennis rackets but have batteries which pass a small electric current into the mesh of the racket.

‘When we last met I was but the learner….’

This is not enough for a person to even notice it (although I’ve yet to try it on Nell) but if a mosquito comes into contact with it they explode with a dramatic electrical popping sound. You have to press a button to get the charge going and a green light comes on and there’s a separate setting for another white light I guess to attract them which makes me feel like I’m wielding a lightsaber. We didn’t have much luck at first but then I went into the bathroom, which has limited space for them to disappear, and got a load at once. Now I am finding my hunting genes coming to the fore and am figuring out the best light patches to see the mosquitos and the best way of swiping at them. They really are incredibly good at disappearing though. I sometimes wonder if they can actually turn invisible – a neat evolutionary trick.

This last week was the week when graduates are supposed to come in and have a group photo. They usually do another one at the main Yangon temple with matching outfits and hire professional photographers but we also like to take one at school. There is a kind of tiered area where we can take a photo but the problem I found last year was that I was having difficulty getting far enough back to get the shot I want with the lens we have. However, the school has a cherry picker and I asked if I could use it to which the answer was yes! We tested it the day before to get the right positioning. They had a harness laid out but I didn’t use it and no helmet either – safety first. So I got in and the guy showed me how to make it go up. I was immediately shocked on operating it firstly at how quickly it went up and secondly how much it swayed. I mean – it swayed a lot and felt very shaky and like it could just go over at any moment. Anyway, I eventually got to the top and got my test shots done. However, I’d forgotten to ask how to make it go down. I shouted down for instructions and the guy just said to do the opposite thing I’d done to make it go up. I tried everything but to no avail. Eventually the guy figured out how to make it go down from his end so I got down. When I asked him what I was doing he discovered the ‘battery was dead’ – sooo Myanmar. Anyway, the next day most of the kids showed up and were seemingly impressed at the great risk I was taking to get the shot.

Our road has finally been connected to the main road now. As our road was done and was already 5 inches higher before it is now a smooth even connection which feels luxurious. It is amazing what you can get used to and what most people take for granted can feel luxurious here. Myanmar simply doesn’t have enough fuel to keep the electricity on at the moment so now we are on a rotation of rolling 4 hours of blackouts for 8 hours a day. There are fixed times so at least you can plan round it. On Day 1 the electricity goes off at 9:00 am to 1:00pm and then again at 5:00pm to 9:00pm. When we’re working we miss the morning shift but then we come home and sit in the garden until it gets dark before turning on the generator for the rest of the time (usually about 2.5 hours). On a Day 2, the electricity goes off at 5am until 9am and then again at 1pm until 5pm. On those days you have the seeming luxury of power from 5pm until 9am the next day. Yangon is apparently powered largely by hydroelectric power so we think we might have to wait until it starts raining before the power will be switched back on permanently. It doesn’t really start raining until June so we’re in for a long haul I think.

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