Friday, November 19, 2010

call in the idiots....

When we were kids there was no TV. We had the radio and we waited for Sunday afternoons when they played English songs like “Yesterday once more” or “Every breath you take”. Then one day my dad went and got this huge heavy box, it was my first introduction to the Television. There was even an antenna, which had to be installed on the terrace. Those days TV was a black and white affair, with loads of gray and blur, and started in the evening at about 6 pm with a ridiculous children’s programme and ended at about 9:30 pm after the evening news…….In the middle you had very interesting programmes like documentaries on farming and stuff in blurry black and white and moments of wavy lines and static which a quick slap on the TV could easily adjust. It fascinated us. There were houses in the area where the TV would be switched on promptly at six and would go on blasting till the much revered Doordarshan went off the air, whether anyone was watching or not….Not so in our house. 6 pm was study time and my dad was a stickler for discipline…so our TV never was switched on. No one watched, at the very best it was switched on for the ten-minute news bulletin at night and my father insisted it was not worth it…how I envied all our neighbours who had TVs that were actually switched on! Once in a while my dad would call all of us and make us sit and watch, because some “good program” was on. That usually meant a boring historical tedious Bengali movie like “Ananda Math” or “Devi Choudhurani”……… Yikes, the next time I heard there was a “good program”, I developed a headache!

The colour TV came much later, with the Asian games. It was soon followed by serials which ALL my friends watched and discussed at school. I obviously was not allowed to watch and felt very deprived when their discussions revolved around “Humlog” and “Buniyaad”. We only watched when my dad thought we could derive some education and/or information…and that was not often. In the US, I almost went into shock, they had about 80 channels or more and by the time I’d gone through them all, I had no clue where I was!

Back home, the buzzword was the Bangladesh airwaves, if your antenna was turned in the right direction, you could catch fuzzy snowy images of “A Team” or “Knight Rider” or even “Remington Steele”…….we spent more time adjusting our antennas trying to get a picture than actually watching the shows! That was until the cable wave hit us. Suddenly you had TV all day. And all night. You got all those shows you had hitherto only read about in foreign magazines left behind by cousins from “abroad”. Only I was not interested. Friends, college, life, the TV had never gotten a chance to dig its nails into me.

Now we have digital transmissions, we have state of the art TVs with a never-ending choice of channels catering to every whim and fancy. We have entertainment in several languages, we can set reminders, we can order movies on TV and we are spoilt for choice. Only I still don’t know what to watch!
Oh my kids have no such problems, they are smart. Very smart. I know it’s my fault. When they were small it was so simple to dump them in front of the TV and switch on something like “Teletubbies”, while I got some work done. I didn’t think about it, I thought they would outgrow it. They did. But then they grew into “Pokemon”. In an effort to keep up with them I learnt the names of all the mind boggling characters like Raichu Pikachu and Someothershitchu….by the time I learnt them, they told me, “Ma, you’re so out of date, we don’t watch Pokemon any more, now its Doreamon.” I gave up.
And I haven’t tried since.
My girls have it all, they ran the gamut through animations to witches, to Son Pari to Barbies that set your teeth on edge to Hannah Montana to some baby faced twit called Justin Beiber who apparently if you do not know you should goslapyourself! They know all the weird movies I have never heard of, they know when Miley Cyrus goes to the loo, they know songs that make my head ache and they even watch some master chef nonsense and tell me they have tips to help me when I make a cheesecake!!!! I never have to explain the facts of life to them, they saw it all on TV (well, not all, I hope!!!!) they know which shampoo will stop hair fall and make your hair grow three inches in three months. They know you can get a policy to live with your head up in your old age and they dream of McDonald’s happy meals! They even were telling me the other day that hamdard safi and suthol will help me live a more vibrant life!!!!!!
True it gets my goat, as soon as I see they are watching TV I chase them off to go play something or read something…but I also have to give in. And true, in eleven years, I have not found a better baby sitter. I keep lamenting about how in our time we had more fun outdoors and used our imagination to amuse ourselves but face it, times HAVE changed.
I know why they call it the idiot box, my girls become like that sometimes, their eyes glaze over, they cannot hear when I call, they are oblivious to the world around them until someone snaps the damn thing off, but somehow it’s ok. I guess. As long as they do all the other things they are supposed to!
All the rest is on DTH!

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