Wednesday, 10 August 2011

TV and the Holy Indian Family Communion

It took a brand new, recently occupied, neatly furnished – nice dining table, modular kitchen, shelves, fancy sanitaryware - 3 BHK flat in Goregaon (E) to make me realise what, for me, makes a house a home. Well… the house didn’t have a TV… Yeah, I do miss my mom and all that jazz but I still vote for the TV!

The truth is no self-respecting middle class Indian family bonds over the dinner table. Not for us… the what happened at work today honey? Did you know what happened in Science class today? Dinner Talk is matter of fact, military order like - eat more curd, don’t eat so much papadam you will stink up the place! Over the course of time the conversation becomes perfected that it transcends words and sentences and ascends to grumbles and nose pointing… where you point at dishes with your nose cos your right hand is busy stuffing food into your mouth and your left hand is busy with the remote.

My family and I have had some good times with our TV… childhood was restricted to weekend morning cartoons and the Hindu myths of Mahabharat, Ramayan et al and of course the big daddy of family bonding – Sunday evening movie. Most of the times, if not all the time, the movie was some shitty silver jubilee from the times my grandmother’s grandmother was a doe eyed teenager. A smattering of glamour thanks to Oliyum Oliyum and Chitrahaar and then the introduction to adulthood thanks to Junoon which later got dubbed into Tamil as Pidivaadam, probably the brain child of the then Chennai DD Director who could have been trying to get into the good books of the Dravidians and ensuring that he won’t get transferred again.

But the DD days didn’t see any dialogues amongst my family. Yeah, most of us did spend a lot of time in front of the TV during the shows mentioned above… but we just sat and watched… no questions raised, no concerns arose. For that the credit goes to Cable TV.

The arrival of cable and an episode of Baywatch featuring sharks gave my father and his 9 and 5 year old sons a common show to watch and it gave my mother a reason to rant. To her, mouth to mouth CPR was just kissing and she was shocked that it was coming on the box that had previously shown the pious and most definitely fictional, relationship of Rama and Sita. The orange sari had changed to bright red swim suits and girls in underwear. That episode also heralded a new word in my vocabulary – bikini.

Fall Guy, Manimal, Wonder Years, Doogie Howser, MASH… all great shows… ok fine Manimal was not a great show, it was a terrible show in fact… but the rest were super shows… but my mom didn’t particularly like them… too much kissing amongst the kids in the US I tell you. It wasn’t until Small Wonder came along that my mom finally trusted cable TV channels… all it took was Tiffany Brissette, not sure if the name or the spelling is right, and her sand paper voice to get my mom to bless our TV watching habits.
Small Wonder led to Home Improvement which later led on to Friends and got my folks questioning the content of TV again… but thankfully sports came along to ease the distrust, especially considering neither of my parents were sports fans.

I am going to end this rather disjointed and indifferent post with the memory of my mother waking me up at 11 pm, rather late for a school night, to ensure that I watch Sachin’s heroics amidst the sandstorm in Sharjah… no wait, maybe I will end with the memory of my dad jumping up from his sofa on seeing Hakkinen’s miracle overtaking manoeuvre at the Hungaroring, or was it Spa Francorchamps… the one where he overtook Schumacher by going around Zonta… no I think the best moment was my mother congratulating me after Pete Sampras won the 1999 Wimbledon by beating Agassi in straight sets… some match that… I bunked my second IIT entrance training class to watch this match and I decided not to pursue IIT during the course of the match, not like I had much of a chance anyways… the funny thing is my mom, like many middle class Indian moms, dreamed of me getting into IIT and for her to have this huge smile on her face and come and celebrate Pete’s win… I tell you, there is nothing like a TV to bring a family closer together!