Thursday, June 02, 2005

TV blues

Someone reminded me of TV serials we used to watch when we were kids and I was reminded of things I had not forgotten but things that are so on the past that they rarely surface to the councious layer of the mind. I have such vivid memories of certain things and practically no memory of others that would have happenned quite recently. I can recall the time I got a bloody lip and had to get it sutured when I was about 2 years old! Some memories stick, I guess. And one of such memories is that of our antennae.

We lived in a pseudo-village that was slightly outside a small town called Chengalpattu (aka Chengalpet) in Tamil Nadu surrounded by tiny hills. The free-to-air DD signal was weak and to get a decent picture you had to have this tall, huge antennae pointed in just the right direction. Naturally, the antennae planted on the top of our building, which was one floor high (unlike the multi-storey buildings that seem to be in fashion these days), held to the parapet by three (or two, I forget) steel clamps and held in place by three steel wires that were tied to the middle of the vertical shaft leaving it in three different directions.
Being some 60 kms from Mahabalipuram and hence, at most 60 kms from the sea, we would get pretty gusty winds during the monsoons and any student of geography will tell you that Tamil Nadu is the beneficiary of two monsoon seasons. That explains the steel wires, doesnt it? They were there to make sure that the antennae pointed in the right direction after a night of gusty winds. The clamps were not sufficient as the big antennae twisted easily in the wind without the steel wires to hold it in place.
Yet there were times when the antennae would get twisted in a night uncontrolled gale winds, which would be quite often, would make the antennae twist around in its clamps. After that, there would not be a clear signal and sometimes it would frustratingly happen right in the middle of a movie or just before a serial we watched. There was nothing we could do but to turn off the TV and wait for the weather to settle down to its non-truculent self. That would usually mean that the rest of the day (or night) would be spent in the company of school books (my mother was very strict about "story books").
When the sky cleared and the atmosphere had gotten off its roller-coaster ride, we would go up and try to re-align the antennae to the signal. As we did not have any other way of knowing whether it was at the just angle, we would shout to and fro from the balcony to the house about the status of the clarity of the picture and sound. After twisting and turning the antennae into the right position, we would return happily to watch Door Darshan.
Every year, it was the same story and it got worse when we got a colour TV! The antennae for the CTV had more ribs and was taller than the BW one and so, it would get more easily turned in the wind.

When I remember this, I never remember the anguish we felt when the weather would rob us of a tv show but I remember how much fun it was trying to fix the antennae direction and how ridiculous it would look in these modern times of cable TV. We had two channels to watch and we never had any complaints about the contents of those channels. Nowadays, we have some 100 channels and all we get to see is trash. I surf the channels in the hope of finding something that would attract my interest but end up turning the TV off frustrated by the futility of the whole exercise after a couple of cycles. Is it that hard to produce a meaningful serial? Or is it that the "intelligent" minds of the Indian people has rotted away? Frankly, I cannot answer these questions. Once, there were some useful programmes on TV and we enjoyed watching them but now, I am worried about the future of the children fed on the trash that masquerades as programs in this age.
Oh well! the future of this country is already in the trash can. We feed on trash, imbibe trash in ourselves and live a trashy life.


Jaya said...

Unity in diversity - don't they call it so. And in those speeches of school-days didn't we talk about things that are still similar across India. Yep! That antenna adjustment exercise could very well have been the description of a small town in Bihar too :-))

Wonderful description!!

MadHat said...

Yes, I suppose people in other parts of the country might have faced the same problems.
It is interesting that we never see antennaes anywhere anymore in the cities.


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