Did you have one of those childhoods that has been deprived of the most basic things that every other family on the planet seemed to have in plenty? Like ice cream, or play time, or best friends, or, like in my case, television?? Yes, I was television deprived in my childhood. I think it has had an adverse effect on me, and it affects the way I function as an adult.
You see, when we were kids, my parents were very skeptical as to how the "idiot box" could damage their offsprings. So, they never let us watch television. When they did, it was some stupid cartoon that, I personally think, had a far worse rotting effect on the brain than something a little more real! And for the most part of my life, I watched Arabic TV programs! I totally (and only) got Arab humor, I did not understand anything that wasn't said with Arab body language or an Arabic accent, and I was actually riveted with Arabic TV serials. In Fujairah, in the 1980s and '90s, that is all was available on TV. If you wanted to watch anything in English, you had to wait till Thursday night, when they played some English movies that were either as old as the hills, or as unfunny as Clint Eastwood! It made the wait till midnight on Thursday totally worthless. I think if my parents had just gone and booked the damn cable, we would have gotten our fix and moved on. Instead, they were busy "growing us up in the right way", and we were the most TV-deprived kids in the country!
What was the result? When we saw cable TV in someone's house, we went CRAAAAAZZZZYYY! I think anyone who has ever come within close quarters of my siblings and I will say that when the TV is on, we are dead to the world! You could detonate a bomb beside me, and I wouldn't notice if I was watching 'Remington Steele'!! That was because I rarely saw people talking in English and being dashing, let alone Pierce Brosnan being awesome!
I knew all the trivia, gossip, reviews, and the finer points of Hollywood shows and movies, and I knew the names of all the actors, and who they were dating at any point of time. And yet, I never really got to watch a proper English movie until I was in middle school!! My parents were creeped out when I spoke at length about some actor or movie, knowing that I could never have gotten to watch that movie or have known about that actor!! My dad used to let us watch movies like 'George of the Jungle', 'Jurassic Park', and 'Baby's Day Out' when our family friends (read boring adult friends of my parents) bought the CD or DVD. Kindly note that I saw these movies when I was in high school! And that was all we were allowed to see. One movie we could watch as many times as we wanted was 'The Sound of Music'. So, I keep saying to people that I have seen the movie more times than I can remember, and you'd think it's because I was a big fan, but now you know the real reason why? Heck, it was the ONLY thing we were allowed to watch!!! I remember my dad saying that he did not want us to watch 'Anaconda' because the snakes were too huge and scary!! Wha???
My TV-deprived childhood and teenage years turned to LIFE-Deprived college years, where I spent 3 years in a hostel, where the only thing we got to see was "Ozhiyum Oliyum" every Friday at 7pm. Tamilians, you know what I'm talking about. It's a show where they played Tamil movie songs with the grating violin music and the over-dressed heroines doing demented dance moves, and the heroes accompanying them with robotic movements. I watched even these shows, simply because I liked to see the light on the television!! You know, my mom used to say this about me: This girl will watch the television, even if there is only a white light on it!! And I have been known to stare at TV static for almost an hour, hoping against hope that the picture will resume! Ahem... Anyway, my parents are good, exemplary, salt-of-the-earth types, and I LOVE them, but the truth remains that they wouldn't let me watch TV. Till now, TV remains a weakness, a fatal flaw, and an obsession for me, my sister and my brother! Go shrink that!
So, time went on, and wherever I went, bad TV haunted me. Finally I landed in Nagercoil, where we had cable TV, and boy was I happy!! Little did I know that "cable TV" in Nagercoil meant 30 local channels that had the same death-inducing crappy programs hosted by the same nasal host with the cheesy clothes, the heavy make-up and the stiff body language, who played the same crappy old Tamil songs that even the actors in the songs wouldn't be proud of!! Some of the remaining channels contained local Christian programs that featured the very same people you saw in church every Sunday and then in every grocery store during the weekend! GAAAH! Finally you had BBC, CNN, StarMovies, HBO, and Star Sports in their grainiest, most teeth-chattering, nail-scraping-on-blackboard glory! So, wheee! I was happy....NOT!
This month, my life changed into this glorious aria to television, when we got DTH at home! Yaaaay! The clear-screen-high-definition heavens sang songs of joy in surround theater clarity!! And I. Was. Home.
So, here I was, sitting on the couch, basking in the glory of watching one channel on a small box in the corner, and also being able to scroll down 100 and more channels, not being able to decide on whether I should watch that awesome reality show on one channel or this classic Oscar-winning movie on this channel, when.........
...... my husband comes in, grabs the TV remote from my hand, activates all the sports channels, and sits down to watch the IPL.
Cue: hair-tearing and gut-wrenching screams!