“Haven’t you done the job yet?” Wife asked.
“I’m trying…” I said, actually trying only to sound more confident than I felt.
If you have done that job, and that too in one attempt, I salute you.
I’m talking about the Package Selection for the television channels from your DTH provider, as mandated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. A truly TRAIng task, I think!
Frankly, I wasn’t too keen to get the job done because I was quite happy that the television was finally – albeit temporarily – dead. I was utterly unmotivated to re-crowd my home with the parade of unwanted guests, from noisy newscasters to unfunny comedians to aggressive advertisers to principled politicians to myriad movie makers to omniscient panellists who had been so grilling me about what to buy, what to eat, what to do and indeed what to think, that I had involuntarily surrendered my wit, will and wisdom to them.
The DTH provider’s website, designed no doubt by a genius, has no way to save your selection. So every time there was a change of mind, the whole wheel had to be reinvented. And my repeated vacillation was aided by the gourmet selection of A La Carte channels (Yes, they’re actually calling it that!) resembling the French menu card of an upmarket fine-dining restaurant.
Did you know that many channels have exclusive value-added offerings like you have rich cousins abroad? One channel, that earlier seemed like the boy-next-door, had many variations like SD, HD, Select, Prime and whatnot. And Wife wanted them all.
“What’s the difference?” I dared to ask.
“No difference. They are all good.” She said.
And did you know that there are many vaguely and similarly named channels that you didn’t imagine even existed? They sound so similar and so meaningless that they reminded me of the poetry in Bollywood songs that inevitably rhymes Sharab, Kabab, Naqab and Gulab.
So, every time I tried to select channels, I either missed many or chose too many.
I was as confused as I always am in a wedding dinner buffet. Torn between the bar and the fast depleting food counters and the desserts corner, I always end up with a half-empty plate, wistfully wondering where others found the goodies adorning their plates and palates. Being a polite Fauji hardly helps, as I keep asking the ladies to go ahead in the queue and end up last at the counter, exactly when the serving bowl is empty.
But there were times, especially in the evenings, when I missed some programmes on TV.
Guess what I missed the most?
Saas-Bahus in our serials and their relatives in Hollywood.
Not because I watch them. I don’t. (And if I did, I wouldn’t admit it in public. Would you?)
Not having lived in a joint family, I don’t much understand Indian serials. And it is even more difficult for me to relate to the Desperate Housewives in America.
But the Wife was missing her daily dose of domestic dramas. Like a drunkard thirsting for her sun-downer at dusk, the Wife would longingly stare at the blank screen and curse the operator, the government and me, not necessarily in that order.
I sought my Son’s help. He is a tech wiz and lives in Mumbai.
“Dump the DTH. The Internet has more than enough for your needs.” He advised.
When I suggested that to Wife, she laughed like a Jethani from one of her serials.
“Your broadband is slow. Takes longer to stream than you take to understand a joke.” She said.
Since no DTH is not an option, I want someone to tell me what channels I should select. And how to!
I think the earlier bundles were nice enough for gutless, spineless, brainless, opinion-less and choice-less people like me. Just surfing through all those channels used to give me a false sense of abundance; a priceless commodity in a society plagued with a shortage of everything – clean air, water, electricity, roads, schools and jobs.
Plus there was an undeniable sense of power in being able to shut up the bigwigs mid-sentence while jumping from one channel to another.
Most importantly, the operators, by thrusting North Indian language packs in the South & vice versa, and ditto East-West, did possibly achieve a modicum of national integration that no political party has ever managed.
Oh, how I miss the mess!
But I have finally understood the meaning of DTH.
It does not mean Direct To Home, it means Double The Hassle!
©Avinash P Chikte