A distant thunderstorm caused a power blackout for a few hours. It reminded me of the way things 'used to be,' as I sat on my back porch. When I first moved here in 1996, we had only a few hours of electricity in the evenings, provided by two 300 kW city generators. If one of them was out of commission, we had electricity every other night. We got 24 hour electricity in 2003.
Back before the chance, there was less reliance on TV and CD players for entertainment. We'd have dinner at each other's houses and tell stories. I think that's how I became so fluent in Lao. The stars are now obscured by the constant light pollution in the city.
As I sat in my back yard, I watched the fireflies move through the trees. A Hmong family lives behind my house. Even though they have relatives in the US, who probably send money to them, they have not left their old one-room brown house to build a concrete one. They still draw their water from the well, not being hooked up to the municipal water system.
I listened to their voices as they sat outside in the evening, speaking Hmong. I love the music of the language and could tell that they were enjoying the dark as much as I was, talking about whatever. Often, the neighbors are playing Lao music, so the softness of the tonal languages gets obscured.
The storm moved on, without leaving any rain on us. I watched the progress of the thunderheads, moving in from the west but passing more to the south of us.
By ten pm, the lights had come back on and the modern world resumed.