Reading Waiting for Light by Jake Abrahamson left me waiting for light. The narrative-like story of journalist Abrahamson’s experience in a poor village in India doesn’t seem like a science article overall. He does talk about technology changing the lifestyles of villagers in India as light bulbs are distributed to them through private companies. He even mentions the financial situation of these private companies – that they may need more support, that this could be a big business opportunity with profit.
As I read over his exchange with 15 year old Bhawana Singh and Mr. Ramswarup, I noticed how “light” was the hope of the people. Having a lantern could allow them to stay up later, study even after sunset, and stay safe under the illuminated streets. As I imagined the night in the village becoming brighter, I couldn’t help but think about the lanterns covering the stars.
It was probably because of my love for the night sky, but I felt curious about Mr.Ramswarup’s question: “Are you going to feel happy after visiting this village?” He was probably asking the question genuinely, but I wondered how he would answer this question after visiting a city full of lights and living there for years. He may enjoy all the benefits of the city – clean water, electricity that powers the biggest library, and the busy urban lifestyle. Would he miss the quiet night illuminated only by a moon and billions of stars? And last of all, if he went back, would he bother mentioning the benefits of living under artificial lights everyday?
Although I was able to conclude that I was too used to the life with light and technology all around me, the article made me curious about my surroundings. I thought I already appreciated their existence, but reading this made me think that I need to know more about how things work and what people’s lives are like without them to truly appreciate the technology.