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In praise of ceiling fans

February 8th, 2009 · 43 Comments

Not many people know this about me, but I have held a long aversion to ceiling fans. Maybe this is a reaction to growing up with my parents, who love them. Not for me the 1980′s rumpus-room-chic fan with wooden blades inset with lattice work. Not for me the blinged-out fans adorned with bulbous lights and gee-gaws. And besides, I live in Canada, where it’s winter half the year and you just open the window to cool things down.

But here in Niger – oh my goodness, things have changed. Here, the ceiling fan is my best friend, and the faster I can get it to turn the better. It may sound like a DC3 is revving up in the room, but these things create the closest thing to wind chill factor West Africa has to offer. And that’s a good thing.

Now these are not fancy ceiling fans – photo coming soon. But like my economist friends like to say, nothing adds utility like utility. And around here, ceiling fans are a utility. Every room has got one, or ten or twelve. And they’re all going vigorously. And it’s the cold season.

There are some risks, mind you. No jumping is allowed, particularly for tall people. Indoor hockey is out. And you should be careful not to tip your head back too far to get that last drop of Coke out of the glass bottle, because it might be ripped from your hands by an incredible force, and swept by the fan-made gale into the corner of the room. And if the big diesel-powered generators across the river that generate most of this country’s electrical power go out, it won’t be long before the resulting quiet in the room is replace by the sound of rivulets of your own sweat running down onto the floor and creating a hazard for passing children and elderly people. If that’s not utility, I don’t know what is.

There is now no ceiling to my enthsiasm for fans. I might even be their biggest one.

Tags: Niger · Travel

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