Diary Of A Little Woman | Ten glorious days without Television

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Young Nila discovers a whole new world when she steps back out through the portal of the TV screen and into reality.

Television acts like a drug we use to alleviate our mental boredom. Imagine if we said no to it and developed the ability to take care of our minds all by ourselves.

November 11

 

Dear Diary,

 

The last few days have been dreadful. And interesting.

Why?

Four words.

THE NO TELEVISION CHALLENGE.

 

I don’t even know why I agreed to it. Even Shanky was cool with it. Actually, we were both heavily excited when Amma suggested it. I guess we should give Amma ‘Best Convincer of the Year’ award. After all, it isn’t easy to get two school-going TV addicts to take up such a challenge.

Clever she is. Like a fox. Sly also.

 

For the uninformed (which is you and your secret network of private diaries whom I give you permission to share this entry with):

 

It all started because of Durga Aunty.

 

Amma and Durga Aunty call themselves the ‘Samosa Sisters’. They work in the same office and every afternoon at 3.45pm, they go to Chaitanya Chaats behind their building for one plate samosas and two masala chais (cheeni kum). Actually they didn’t come up with this name. Their jealous cubicle-mate Mehta Uncle was annoyed that they never took him along, so he started calling them Samosa Sisters.

 

Anyway, Durga Aunty’s cousin’s neighbour’s daughter in San Francisco took up this challenge and posted about it online. As is the way of internet, it became famous. Now thanks to Durga Aunty’s cousin’s neighbour’s big mouth, the news has reached OUR living room and WE have to suffer.

 

Shanky did Dhoni-promise and I did Najju-Paati-promise, so we have no way out :–(

 


Day 1, Monday


Was ok. The deal is that nobody watches TV for two whole weeks. No matter what. So Appa bought two extra newspapers to make up for the lost TV time. How many different styles of reporting a robbery or PM announcement are there, I wonder?

 


Day 2, Tuesday


Shanky and I took out the board games from the top cupboard for the first time in ages. Most of them were 3-4 player games. It was fun actually because we annoyed Amma and Appa into joining us and they couldn’t really complain.

 


Day 3, Wednesday


Najju Paati came home for tea. Half-way into her third cup, she said, “Mmm.. Something seems different today. Very different.”

 

Amma started laughing. “Hahaha Najju Aunty, it’s because there is no background music from that idiot box.”

 

Najju Paati looked at Shanky and me in shock. ‘What did you guys do now? Amma never cancels your TV time unless you have committed some horrible crime like failing in your Math exam or throwing eggs at Reddy Uncle’s car, which I think was a noble and brave thing to do. He’s such a pompous ass.”

 

Amma told her about the challenge. Meanwhile, we went into the room and got out the board games. It was SO MUCH FUN. Najju Paati is a complete joker. We played Pictionary — oh how she made us laugh with her absurd drawings.

 


Day 4, Thursday


The Prime Minister had a big announcement to make. The TV channels were apparently going crazy. That’s what Kumar Uncle told Appa. Appa begged and begged Amma to break the rules for just this evening. Amma refused. We also told Appa that he could wait till tomorrow morning and read it in the paper. All three papers.

 

Appa gave us an angry look and he went to try a different strategy with Amma He went into the kitchen and started helping with the dishes. Then he suddenly hugged Amma and whispered something into her ears. She giggled. Shanky and I were spying from outside. ‘Ew gross. Why are they acting like teenagers in love?’ Shanky asked. I looked at him in surprise. He smiled and said that he had seen a scene similar to this in some romance movie on HBO and the little boy had said the same dialogue. “Eww gross sounds so cool, no? Like fart face.” he said.

 

I giggled. Amma and Appa turned, blushed and shooed us away.

 


Day 5, Friday


Appa’s head was buried in no. 2 of the three newspapers. Amma’s head was buried in the ‘Personal’ section of her favourite women’s magazine.

Shanky and I looked at each other blankly. We were in no mood to bury our heads.

 

Shanky noticed a photo on Appa’s newspaper — it was a fat old man wearing a yellow shirt. “Doesn’t he look like a piece of shit — literally?”

 

I giggled. “We should call him kakkoos moonji.” I said.

Shanky laughed. “That’s a kickass insult, Akka. I’m going to popularise it in school. Do you want credits?”

“No you take it,” I said. Time without TV seems to be bringing us closer. I am actually beginning to feel affectionate towards that little pest.

For the next one hour, we made up some more insults. PoopBreath. CabbageBum. RatFart. ArmpitLicker. AssFace. And a few more that I forgot.

KakkoosMoonji was the best though.

 


Day 6, Saturday


We usually have 3 hours of TV time on Saturday. Luckily, Vanaja Maami and Murthy Mama came on a visit. For the first time, I was actually thankful because, no matter what, Vanaja Maami’s stupid opinions are at least entertaining. Today she was telling Appa about the latest Swami she visited. It seems he lives in a five-star hotel, eats chicken, drinks wine, and promotes luxury. His philosophy is to find peace and spirituality in wealth. Strange, the selection of Vanaja Mami’s swamis. First that fellow who only teleconferences with his devotees. Then that guy who makes his devotees wear socks. Now this guy with chicken and wine. Next she will bring a swami who rides motorbikes and goes partying.

 

After she left, Shanky and I cooked up a Swamiji for Vanaja Maami. We decided to make a poster about the Swami Baal-ananda and post it to her. This Swami has a beauty parlour and insists on giving haircuts to his devotees personally — but just one single snip with the scissors. His deputies finish off the rest of the haircut. Then that hair is offered in the fire for the Goddess who will grant all wishes — the more hair you donate, the better.

 

We also wrote a follow-up newspaper article about how shampoo companies are protesting because their profits are low due to the swami’s no-hair policy.

 


Day 7, Sunday


Another 3-hour TV day. At the breakfast table Shanky and I were discussing what we can do today. Amma suddenly said, ‘Hey, why don’t we go to the museum. And then maybe some pizza?”

 

Whoa! Can you imagine this diary? We have lived in this city for 12 years and this is the first time we are going to the museum (which is the fourth-largest museum in Asia). Oh what fun it was! There were more than 100 rooms with all kinds of things. Not just paintings, statues and coins. There was one room full of dolls (Shanky super spooked). Then a room full of clocks (Oh, the music when the clock stuck 12). Shanky and I played hide-and-seek in the second half while Amma and Appa shopped in the souvenir store.

 

Next, pizza. Thin crust. Triple cheese, Yummy yummy in the tummy.

 

Night surprise gift — Shanky got a Dracula theme glow-in-the dark watch and I got a 2-foot Russian doll from the museum store :)

 

Day 8, Monday

Only two more days to go. This evening Shanky and I went to the old church near home on a mini bro-sis outing. I bought him ice cream with my Diwali money. He bought me cotton candy. When we went home, we found Amma and Appa sitting in one corner — giggling over some old photo albums. We joined them on a looooooong trip down memory lane. The whole experience felt warm and gooey in the heart.

 


Day 9, Tuesday


Shanky had a project about the history of television. How ironic (new word taught by Amma. Slightly complicated to explain. Will try later)! So, we decided to do it differently by conducting an interview of all the people in the apartment. So many interesting stories! Best was the one where Lalitha Aunty’s neighbour had just bought a new TV and all the kids in the neighbourhood went to their house to watch. And they were all so engrossed in the film that Aunty forgot to turn off the tap and the whole kitchen was flooded with water and they only realised when the water started entering the drawing room.

 


Day 10, Wednesday


Last day! Pizza again! And a conference to discuss the challenge.

 

Appa: Interesting! I missed the late-night news but I got to spend quality time with my biwi. And the museum-visit too.

 

Amma: The house felt like home.

 

Shanky: It was amazing. I realised that Akka is actually pretty cool.

 

Me: Same goes. Shanky isn’t half as bad as I thought he’d be.

 

We high-fived each other and decided to end the challenge with another board game.

 

Amma was right. These 10 days of no TV did make this house feel more like home.

 

With love and so much peace,

Nila

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