The last few weeks at my mami’s place have made me marvel at my cousins’ seemingly endless capacity to watch TV. My mami has two daughters, aged 6 and 13, and a live-in babysitter. All three of them are permanently planted in the front of the television all day long during these vacations.
The daytime is spent with my two cousins fighting over what to watch: the 6-year old wants to watch Dora the Explorer or Mr. Bean or some other show on Pogo or Disney, while her elder sister is equally determined to watch the rerun of Dill Mill Gaye (though she watched the same episode the previous night).
Late afternoon, my six-year old cousin calls a friend over so that both of them can watch CID together. She has now taken to declaring that she’s a CID officer and goes through all my stuff when I’m not at home, looking “for drugs”, as she sweetly informs me when I reach home. I have now taken to carrying anything that I don’t want her to find with me to work, because telling her not to search my stuff has no effect whatsoever. Apparently, a good CID officer is immune to complaints from their suspects about any invasion of privacy.
The TV is off for about an hour at 6 in the evening, when both the cousins go downstairs to play and the babysitter goes for her daily walk. And then it starts again. I didn’t catch the name of the show that’s on currently, but the grandmother with the pistol aimed at her grandson is now chasing said grandson through a park as he escapes from her clutches (he effected the escape by telling her that there was a cockroach on her hair, which obviously made her screech, stop her car and start a search for the cockroach, at which time the kid leaped out of the car and took off). The heel of one shoe has now gotten stuck in keenchad (wet mud) in the park. One hopes that the kid is now safe, but I’m sure there will a new twist soon.
The night starts with Rang Badalti Odhni. Which is followed by Geet – Hui Sabse Parayi, and then Dill Mill Gaye. There are the “reality” shows such as Indian Idol and Desi Girl and one more involving child magicians, I think. And once the kids sleep (at around 11), there’s another show that I didn’t quite catch the name of that keeps the babysitter up for another half an hour.
The TV, unfortunately, is in the guest room, which is currently occupied by me. So the children and the babysitter are glued to my bed all day long. After one weekend of trying to follow the dramatic sound sequences and the repeated scenes and the convoluted story lines of Dill Mill Gaye and Geet, I gave up and have set up house on the sofa in the hall. My bedtime is dictated solely by what show is on that night (and so, by what time my room will be emptied).
In those two days that I spent trying to unravel the mystery of why the story-less drama unfolding on the television set interested anyone, the babysitter saw fit to explain to me the basic story of each show. I was wrong. The shows are definitely not story-less. After all, Geet was abandoned by her fake husband who happens to be her new boss’s (and love interest’s) brother, which is a storyline that’ll progress no further for a couple of weeks. Armaan did love Ridhima before Siddharth came along. If it wasn’t for the disease that forced Ridhima to jump into bed naked with Siddharth, and so, obviously marry him later, Armaan and Ridhima would still be a happy couple.*
But all jokes aside, the storylines of the shows aren’t even the point. It’s the unnecessary and extremely blatant and forced drama of the shows that gets to me. Star One has even picked up this annoying technique of showing the last scene of the episode three times with advertisements between each occurrence! And yet, my cousins keep the TV on. There were 20 minutes and two advertisement breaks between the time the host of Desi Girl announced that he was going to declare the winner and the time he actually declared the winner. And yet, no one changed the channel.
I am quite baffled.
*I may be wrong about the storylines. The dead-but-not-dead characters and the time jumps kept me quite confused.