Date with darkness
By nightfall, a sense of insecurity, uncertainty and anxiety befell the city yesterday.
The daylong countrywide power outage caught the people living in the capital off guard, shutting amenities and raising safety concerns.
"I haven't stepped out of my house since this afternoon," said Anwar Hossain, a resident of the city's Kathalbagan area, around 10:00pm last night.
"Only a few minutes ago, I heard people screaming 'Chhintai Chhintai (mugging, mugging)' from the road in front of my house. I haven't even gone to mosque for my evening prayers. With the whole neighbourhood in darkness, we don't feel safe inside our house either," he said over the phone.
Even staying in the comfort of home was not easy for people.
"At the moment, my parents and I are sitting at home in complete darkness. We have only one candle left and we are saving it for emergency,” Kotha, a private school teacher, told The Daily Star over the phone around 8:00pm.
Visiting different areas of the city, this correspondent found many people frantically looking for alternative ways to illuminate their residences. And candles and kerosene were their immediate choice.
But hurdles were there as well.
"All the candles were sold out before it was dark. I looked at all the shops in and around Rajabazar's Jahanara Garden area. But there was not a single candle available in those shops,” said Ansar Uddin, who had come to nearby Karwan Bazar looking for candles after failing to get any from his own area.
This situation came as a boon for some traders; they doubled the price of candles.
A shopkeeper in Karwan Bazar at 7:00pm was found asking Tk 10 for a candle which otherwise is sold at Tk 5.
Failing to get their hands on candles, some people were seen buying lanterns and kerosene from Karwan Bazar.
The daylong outage affected those living in the high-rises as well.
"I am pregnant and I had to take the stairs all the way down from the 13th floor as lifts were not working. It was really painful,” said Kanta, a private firm employee.
With no power supplies, many buildings were left without water.
Authorities of a number of hostels in Farmgate area asked their boarders to move elsewhere as they could not provide them with water and electricity.
The city streets wore a deserted look by 9:00pm.
Though Saturday means long queues of cars and buses on the streets till midnight, this weekend was different.
Only a handful of cars could be seen on the roads and a public bus was a rare sight. Footpaths were mostly empty. No vendors and hardly any pedestrian could be found on the pavements.
Several hundred people were found waiting at Trust Filling Station near Bijoy Sarani intersection when this correspondent went there around 10:00pm. They all were waiting with containers and jars in hand to buy diesel. As most pumps were facing disruptions to their operation due to the outage, people, some of whom had come in rickshaw-vans with big containers, picked this refuelling station, run by the Army Welfare Trust, to buy fuel for generators.
Banani-11, a well-known hangout spot that springs to life with the sunset, was found quiet around 10:00pm. Almost all the fast-food shops were closed and hardly any cars or people could be seen in the otherwise busy area.
The impacts of hours-long outage on the city life were reflected in the social media as well.
"I have an exam tomorrow. My laptop has run out of charge. I'm using my brother's phone to go through study materials. Do I have to carry candles to the exam hall tomorrow?" a Nabila posted on The Daily Star's Facebook page.
Seventy-five-year-old Ziaul Huda even went as far as to question the scientific advancement.
"I wonder if we had a better life in our young age when we used to depend on kerosene lights and hand fans only,” he posted on the Facebook page.
Private university student Jasim Uddin perhaps summed it up the best.
"Life is dark without electricity," he told The Daily Star over the phone last evening.