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December 12, 1994
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 168
Blind Diary

Serbia Unplugged

by Petar Lukovic

The spiritual and centuries-old link between the Serbs and electricity, something totally unknown to other nations and civilizations, has undergone a stormy crisis in the motherland in the past few weeks.

The Serbian Electrical Supply Company (EPS) issued, with a controlled dose of panic, a sentimental and alarming warning that the hydro-electrical power plants and thermo-electric power plants were slowly but surely stopping their so-called production because all of the lakes had dried up overnight and that some rivers like the Danube had started a strike and were pretending to be underground streams. Then the EPS swore that all millennial reserves of coal had been exhausted and that Serbia, in fact, had never had any energy resources, that we had always been naked and bare-footed, with draughts and no water, and that the schoolbooks which claimed otherwise were written by our enemies in order to deceive us, which they finally succeeded in doing so in late 1994, after 49 years of persistent and consistent Communist propaganda to which we cowardly submitted. Then someone at EPS turned a switch and reduced traditional Serbian divisions of Chetniks and Partisans, grave diggers and gypsies, traitors and patriots, and men and women into a sophisticated and unique division of groups - group one, group two, group three, group four and group five. Darkness swallowed Belgrade, which had kept warm during party cell meetings by believing in Nikola Tesla's secret weapon. Then Belgrade Mayor Nebojsa Covic hit his head angrily on his desk and dared the EPS to leave him and his Belgraders without electricity for more than eight hours in one morning. Then the EPS hit back and started switching off three groups at once. Then a television anchor named Milorad Komrakov (the surname consists of the word play with the word MRAK=DARKNESS) said that we must all use electricity economically, even though everybody knows, and it is a historical fact, that Tsar Dusan used gold forks, gold spoons and gold bulbs, when the Americans hadn't even heard of a two-phase current electricity meter, let alone had their own state.

Then someone discovered that Rusanj, a rural Belgrade suburb, was to blame for everything - its inhabitants were exploiting electricity so mercilessly that their pigs shine fluorescently in the dark. Then another man whose name is Milenko Kasanin (and who claims that he does something in the City Assembly) promised the martyrs from Rusanj that they wouldn't be "second class citizens" and that the 1,244 of them would not have to bear the entire burden of decreased electricity consumption in Serbia. Then the EPS dynamited overhead power lines to Rusanj and forgot that it had ever existed. Then somebody found out that the farmers and even the citizens in skyscrapers were using electricity to heat their pigsties and cowsheds and thereby gobbling up as much as 2% of the city electricity. Then the EPS promised that it would electrocute every bovine luxuriating in the blessings of industrialization and electrification. Then Mayor Covic reminded domestic animals that they had the same rights as all the citizens of Belgrade plunged in pitch darkness.

Then a special session of the Chamber of Commerce was called and a bucolic smart alec disclosed that the citizens were to blame for the electricity shortage, especially those strutting around in big apartments which had once upon a time been heated by oil but were now using up electricity.

Then the EPS sent a greeting card to all households with instructions on how many kilowatts they were allowed to consume and what would happen to the household if the prescribed amount of electricity was exceeded; EPS snipers and artillery would fire a bullet or a shell and so remind all erring households, after which, if the said household continued to act in a provocative manner, it would be left without electricity over the next ten decades, and in extreme cases, exceptionally defiant households would have Cyclone B pumped into their houses, thus resolving the energy supply issue once and for all.

Then the EPS skipped Belgrade and zeroed in on the rest of Serbia, switching it off en masse, and in one group, for 26 hours per day. Then those from the country sent a message to the big city big shots saying they'd break their bones in several places if they continued mucking around with electricity at the expense of the locals who were preparing to take refuge in the warm woods covered with snow and ice. Then the EPS, in a delirium of goodwill, said that every household with a baby born after April 1, 1994 would have the privilege of an additional seven (7) kilowatts, that invalids got another four (4) kilowatts, and patients hooked onto dialysis machines had the right to a whopping 12 (twelve) extra kilowatts! Then someone figured out that a lucky family with a baby invalid on dialysis treatment could count on a fantastic 7+4+12 kilowatts, reaching the impressive megalomanic figure of 23 kwh, which is the ceiling approved by the Soviet committee for power supplies in 1919, and sufficient for forty-two years of slowly disintegrating in installments.

Then a third man in a No. 40 trolley whispered that Serbia was exporting electricity to Croatia. That same evening the EPS issued a denial on television, advising viewers not to believe saboteurs and Fifth columnists who for decades have been plugged into the electrical circuit for spreading lies about the Serbian people's electricity and their right to self-determination and to switching themselves off.

Then it was Rusanj's turn again. Then someone said that the Djerdap hydro-electric power plant had never worked properly anyway. Then someone said that the Drmno thermo-electric power plant, in front of which Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had held a moving and electrifying speech, after which (the speech) Serbia shook all over, did not in fact exist, because no one has ever seen any smoke coming out of the chimney. Then the EPS accused the Peruvian counter-espionage service of having skillfully spread this information all over Kosovo.

Then Belgrade was without electricity again. Then Bosnian Serb Foreign Minister Aleksa Buha tried to take advantage of the pitch black darkness and make an incursion into Serbia's power system, and by discreet candle-light exchanged a few words with our President on the book "Day and Night", written by the President's one and only wife. Then the one and only spouse, in the romantic setting of a village, sat down and wrote that she had always supported weeping willows, because they were so hapless and helpless, and so sweet.

Then they cut my water supply because there was no electricity.

Then, suffering a spiritual thirst, I found a very good reason to be happy over the electricity shortages, because Serbia, with all its eight-nine-ten million citizens (depending on the electoral lists) became the first state to join Rock'n'Roll's unplugged trend and so stood shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Eric Clapton, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.

Then the EPS announced that the record "Serbia, Unplugged" was not a short-term project and that in 2067 the citizens of Rusanj would realize this when the time came for them to pay for all those pampered broiled hens that would only lay eggs on radiators.

Then I won't mind if we see in the first Christmas, the first New Year, the second Christmas and the second New Year, without all those stupid neon advertisements, colored bulbs and lanterns, which, as the EPS has proved scientifically, have emitted electrical radiation since time immemorial to the detriment of the general state of health of the uninformed and ignorant population in love with lethal electricity.

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