Update: This article was published in The Hindu Open Page dated 20th May 2018.
Watch me while I tilt my head to a 45 degree angle, glaze my eyes and yank you through a storm. We will have to rekindle some childhood memories. Let’s give it a good two or three decades shall we? Good.
Event: To buy a television.
Life has always had its share of amusement and drama, primarily because of the characters in it. When I look around in my life, there are very few placid characters. I have the boisterous ones, the catch-life-by-horns-and-dance-till-dizzy ones, the energetic ones, the sort of people who make observations that make you laugh or admire the speed of the repartee, but seldom dull.
Most households, for example, after deciding to buy a television would take the money available, go to a store and buy one. Mine, on the other hand, well read on.
After making the easy decision of wanting to buy a television, the drama would begin to unfold like a small storm whose eye is coming slowly and surely towards your home. Gaining in strength and fury.
It would all start disarmingly simply. The father would aimlessly drop into an Electronics store to see the different models available. Then, slowly, he would inundate the house with pamphlets from different stores, price comparisons, model evaluations, and cut-outs of advertisements from newspapers and magazines. Anything that had anything about a television: Philips and Samsung would jostle with Dyanora and Whatever-else.
The glossy pamphlets would pile themselves on the tables, couches and side-tables for weeks. All visitors to the home could not miss the mess, and within days the whole community knew that a television purchase was imminent in the home. We lived in a small hillside community where everyone knew everybody else. So, of course, every body weighed in with their advice. There is a certain joy in knowing that people are concerned about you and your doings, and we enjoyed it for the most part.
Storm Status: Brewing and gaining in force. Now visible over horizon.
Of course, every time somebody walked in, we would be embarrassed and apologize for the mess, but it did not bother the father. He was rather pleased with his research and freely boasted about the pains he took in stewing the house with this garbage. “Everybody’s house is like that!” he would say airily when accosted and things would go on.
Storm Status: Momentum building up. Eye of the Storm approaching.
People (read my mother) wanting to sit on the couch at the end of a long day would first have to bite down the sharp words that rise at having no seat available, and then shove all the pamphlets onto the floor before sitting. This was the physical aspect of it. The emotional aspect of it was worse: you see the father was so carried away by his own researches that he would regale all features with gusto at the dinner table or over coffee. CRT tubes, antennae size, screen size and voltage stabilizers, was served with cake and coffee to visitors and family alike.
After a few weeks of this agony, the roof would lift off with the mother’s shrieking, because she can’t bear the mess and the talk surrounding televisions any more.
Storm Status: In the Eye.
To this hair-shrieking response, the father would calmly ask his beloved why she was getting tense, and that she must learn to relax and enjoy the process. Asking somebody to relax while not making any change to the circumstances can be a tricky thing to do. It is an interesting social experiment well worth observing from a distance. I would strongly advocate it.
Storm Status: Spent.
Then, as if nothing had happened, he would head out one day to buy onions and come back with a color television. To quizzical looks from family and friends, he would unveil with a flourish, a brand he has never researched or heard reviews about before. He would have just fallen for the salesperson’s glibbity. Even though, the television matched none of his carefully researched specifications over the past weeks, we were all glad to have the thing done with, and settled in to have a good time with it.
Storm status: Passed.
Take a deep breath and come back to the present.
That’s approximately how the husband books a vacation.