Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Other UPS

For those familiar with India, supposed creature comforts like the continuous and consistent supply of electricity aren't as guaranteed as in places like the U.S. or western Europe. In India, the acronym "UPS" has meanings well beyond the timely delivery of parcels. The more prevalent meaning relates to "Uninterrupted Power Supply". I don't want to get into the technical details because, frankly, I don't know and don't really care; however, multiple times throughout the day the power will go out only to return a few seconds (typically less than a minute) later. We're actually fairly lucky in our apartment complex that the breaks in power are that short as certain parts of town aren't as fortunate and have much longer spans of time without power.

These little power breaks happen everywhere, and they don't seem to rattle anyone. It's such a part of everyday life that people simply go about their business. Last night, I was checking out at the grocery store and they lost power. There was no chaos, no scare of looting; the checkout dude simply kept scanning my items. How did he keep scanning, you ask? That's where the beauty of UPS begins. So it's really not a complex concept, but UPS is basically a mini-generator or battery to keep certain essentials powered. At the grocery store, it's items like the scanner and cash register (I'm not so sure of the refrigerators; I'd have to guess that's a "no"). At the gym, it's things like the treadmill. At the office, it's items like computers and select lights; there are also certain outlets labeled as UPS so you know what you're plugging into (note, we won't be examining why all outlets aren't set up this way).

And of course, there's an at-home version. After three months of dealing with the router recycling with each break in power (note, ordinarily this wouldn't be a huge deal to lose connection on a website, but when you're streaming video via Slingbox and watching a show on DVR, it's a fairly lengthy and annoying process to get back to where you were on the show; I know, such issues I face) I finally paid a visit to my good friends at ElectriCity in the Galleria shopping complex. For INR 2900 (about $65) they were kind enough to sell me my own UPS unit, which is basically a heavy duty power strip that can maintain three fairly power-intensive pieces of equipment. Again, I wasn't really one for details with this purchase (I simply picked out the one my neighbors had), but apparently it's good enough to keep the television, router, and an item to be named later (likely the Wii or PS3 when I get around to setting up either of those items) running for 20 minutes, which is more than enough bridge the gap. My favorite part of the at-home UPS is that it's kind enough to remind you that the rest of your apartment has lost power by, much like a smoke detector low on battery, emitting a very large beep once every ten or so seconds (as if the instantaneous darkness wasn't indicator enough).

The power outages are just things you learn to accept, not question, and simply deal with on a daily basis. After the first few times it happens, particularly in the office, and you see people not react to it, it's amazing how quick it simply becomes a non-issue. Of course, one electrically driven item that isn't typically on back-up is, the elevator. Having a natural aversion to stairs, it's simply a matter of time before this happens. I'll be curious to see how (or if) people react, or if it's just another part of daily life.


  1. Once again, you have reading material available to me during homework time. Yay. This one was quite educational. I thought I was going to read an article about a lost shipment. Who knew UPS had another meaning besides..., "Mommy, here comes the big brown present truck!"

  2. We actually received another note yesterday saying that a package had been delivered to the post office; Lindsay is headed there this morning so it's quite possible the next post could actually be parcel related.