Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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23/2/13: ...and I paid my electricity bill!

By Friday 6pm. it felt like the end of a long and tiring day at the end of a long and tiring week.  So I walked back to my flat, stopping by at my favourite fruit seller to buy an avocado.  Pretty sure he charges me above market rate but I don't haggle, unspoken understanding is that he'll stick to high end of normal and then give me a highly personalised service. So, if I'm walking by and he has good avocados to sell he'l  summon me across, he has before now refused to sell me fruit which he didn't think was up to scratch.
Anyway, got back to the flat reached into my pocket for the key - and it wasn't there!  OK, keep calm, most likely explanation is that I left it in my office.  So walked back to work and, sure enough, there it was.  Walked back again, opened the door, put the light on and - nothing.
Right, first question - is it just the lights not working or is there no electricity in the flat at all?  Quick checks revealed the second.  OK, fine, go down to the electricity cupboard on the ground floor, most likely explanation is that there had been a power cut during the day, and the switch to go between mains and back up generator had not been reset.
As it turned out, that was not the reason, the electricity meter was reading 0.  Careless, very careless to run out of electricity and not notice - but then I have had other things on my mind to worry about recently!  OK, no problem, I have a facility to pay for this bill through my iPhone called Ezy Pesa (see entry for 3/12/12).  So back to my flat to get my iPhone to do this.  Except, of course, when it really matters it doesn't work, the system is down for some reason.  OK, no problem, shop across the road sells voucher for electricity - but no, it's already closed.  So, get told by the security cards that there's a petrol station not too far away which will sort me out.  So back - again!!! - to the flat to pick up my car key.
Not in the best of moods to discover that it's necessary to hit Dar Es Salaam traffic.  Flow rates vary enormously, on a good journey you realise just how compact central DSM is, but on a bad run....  Finally get to the petrol station, buying the voucher necessitates giving the serial number of the meter.  Why, I don't know - I can't imagine there's a big problem with people buying electricity for random strangers, or is there? Voucher is a 16 digit code to type into the meter, got back, typed it in, there's a satisfying click and the red light comes on.  Success!  Electricity back on, the home journey which should have taken 10 minutes has taken well over an hour, but all over now!
Would mention that I'm writing this entry against the clock, I was working in the office today (Saturday) until mid-afternoon, then went to central Dar es Salaam to pay the Internet bill - to find that the shop had already closed.  So I'm shortly going to be disconnected until I can sort that out
So, strange that paying separately for electricity, gas and Internet should all be an issue within the same few days.  Do these irritations make me regret coming here?  No, not for a minute - but direct debit is one of the things I miss about the UK - along with Kentucky Fried Chicken.

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