Friday, February 17, 2012
It’s a Sunday afternoon. Lazy, uninspiring, uninteresting drag of a day. Not a bad day, but just drags. And the programmes on the solitary channel are not helping. A regional movie is on with unknown actors and landscape. You have to wait till evening for your language programme to come on, till then you watch this ditchwater dull show. A couple of other guys are around, lolling in various postures on the sofas. Your friend’s cousin comes in with something they’ve cooked in their house. Smells like jaggery and ghee, probably a festival you don’t know about. The ceiling fan’s wings rotate slowly, as lazily as the afternoon. A cobbler comes to the door and is sent away. You hear the door latch being lifted and another friend comes in, not bringing much to accelerate the slow-setting lethargy. Some ads break the boring programme on TV. When this comes on you don’t know which is worse, this annoying ad or the insipid offering.
It’s a day of no work. You’ve just finished college and tried your hand at a job your cousin recommended you didn’t like it, so you quit. You are in your friend’s house, where you most of your waking hours with other friends. Today there’s a cricket match. An important one with Pakistan. Soon, the rest of the unemployed friends come and some smoke, most don’t. A supply of betel nut (pan parag) is ensured by some instead. The match starts and the opposition is batting, so you don’t pay much attention. You keep the TV on mute, and listen to some songs on the system. After a quick lunch at home, you are all sitting around the TV, on the floor, in the sofa, on the arm rest, wherever there’s space, it’s occupied by friends, friends’ friends, colleagues of brothers, strangers who become friends instantly. Pan gets passed around, there are jokes, banter, and hope as the match progresses. You make fun of the opposition players, give nick names to your team players, someone answers a call from your brother’s office asking for the score. And then this commercial comes on. And you all know instantly what this means. India will lose. It’s happened more than once, and it’s no coincidence. This is a cursed commercial for a great bike, and soon enough your team stumbles to a loss, leaving you all distraught. You retire to your regular bakery run by two guys, and discuss what was the turning point of the match.
A day like this doesn’t come often. No school and a chance to watch a movie! It’s summer holidays and your parents have agreed to let you go watch a movie with your neighbour across the house. It’s an English movie at a cinema that has the best sound system in town. You can hardly contain your excitement. A movie! Wow! By 5 pm your friend comes over and after nodding your head to all the advice (cross the road carefully, keep your money safe, don’t eat oily stuff during the interval), you start walking. It’s a good 30 minute walk, talking about this and that, mostly a cricket match, or a ‘favourite’ teacher. When you reach the cinema, there’s not much crowd and the queue is short, which is good as you don’t like long queues, and the potential houseful sign. You stand in the line in a narrow concrete roofed structure, the three rows separated by iron railings. Soon you are at the counter and you buy two tickets for 2.90. That’s a decent section of the hall, just far enough from the low life seats and near enough to the high class, a palatable middle ground. Relieved at the ease with which you got the tickets, you walk a bit, wonder if you should have the famous coffee and ‘keera vada’, you shelve it for later, during the interval. You enter the cinema and the halls’ lights dim. Instead of the movie you paid the money for, you get these ads. You hate them, they are so intrusive and stupid, you think. You make fun of the ad with your friends. Not just this one, but every one that follows. But this will play for a long time, as long as you went for the movies, this particular one would out last all of the others.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
It always came on your radio in the afternoon. Around 4 pm on weekends. The people in your house have woken up from the slumber induced by the heavy meal and now are ready for some hot coffee. The aroma of filter coffee wafts in from the kitchen. It doesn’t have to waft far as there are only two rooms. Someone switched on the radio and this comedy scene comes on again. You’ve heard it many times but it never tires you or your family members. It stays fresh and funny no matter how many times you hear it. You’ve never seen the movie though. You remember seeing the poster on your trip to your sister’s town. The black and white posters on the wall right next to the party symbols running for the assembly election that year. One of the symbols had a cow and a calf. Someone had thrown cow dung on another poster next to it. You try to paint a picture from the sound of the characters and as always, you are far from reality. Later, when tape recorders came into households, your friend’s folks had this on tape as well, and you borrowed the mono set and heard it like you’ve never heard it before. Timeless.