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Musings of a Netflixed-out Aunty

by Aiden

Dolly Koghar bridges the generation gap, with a little help from the ‘idiot box,’ the TV.

The attractive COVID hotel rates provided an excellent ruse to hustle my two almost-amphibian grandkids off to Pattaya with their parents. Hubby dear heeded my dirty looks, dug in his heels, and didn’t succumb to the “let’s jointly enjoy the action-packed trip” pleas. Our given excuse of doing odds and ends turned out to be untrue; instead we almost grew roots into the sofa from watching Netflix back-to-back-to-back. This was itself a rare treat without the background chaos of sibling war-cries needing intervention, and no one blocking the screen to discuss breakfast, pinto, lunch, snack time, dinner, and the next day’s list of purchases. Of course, all this happens as the plot onscreen is either thickening or unravelling!

So, with everyone away, the TV became mine, but not by snatching the remote, because, if truth be told, I’m a tech dodo and thus I’ve always been at the mercy of whoever wields the controls. And since nothing about hubby dear and me tallies (never did and never will), our convo short-circuits on everything: from our take on karma and on life itself, to our reaction to its terrain, and our choices of food and past time. Therefore, for our TV programmes to be in sync is a distant impossibility!

If I could choose, it would be sensitive story lines, language no bar, thanks to the subtitles. I’ve traversed through the troubles and aspirations of the Spanish, French, Italians, Iranians, Egyptians, and Russians, and those nearer to home, the Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese. I especially enjoy South Indian movies and series, in any and every dialect though I don’t understand any, not even Kannada despite my Bangalore years. Their stories are grounded, mature and realistic, as are their actors, backdrops and get-ups; despite the modernity, they manage to uphold family values. As for their dances, WAAH!

The downside of my tech illiteracy is, it had me spending my years in Kobe watching the likes of Tom & Jerry, to Ultraman, Doraemon, and Sesame Street with my kids. Currently, I’m suffering through Peppa PigBlippi, and Wendy with my four-going-on-thirteen-year-old grandkid, who can surf the mobile, tablet, and remote with one little finger, while re-enacting Justin Bieber’s “Baby” all in the same breath. Meanwhile, his nine-going-on- seventeen-year-old sister has endless explanations for why her braids have gotten undone and the rubber bands broken, all so she can let lose her knee-length tresses; unbridled and free-flowing like the Mako Mermaids from the eponymous TV series that she mimics! She summersaults instead of walking around the house, and through her incessant chattering, she slickly replaces our plans to watch Sadhguru’s YouTubes or yoga and breathing videos for our age-related ailments, to critiquing her latest self-taught dance moves to Bollywood and English Pop songs. Which, admittedly, she’s pretty good at.

The upside is I couldn’t become an idiot box addict, and as a silent and objective spectator to the kid’s programmes, I’ve stayed in tune with their currant ‘lingo’. I could also subtly interrogate them about the activities and thoughts they shared with their peers and with them glued onto the screen, they’ve spilled more beans than they would have liked!

Anyway, before I’d taken a full yogic breath, they were back, bursting with energy and far- fetched yarns, a penchant of the four-year-old. On Tuesdays, he comes home with tall tales of how his soccer-ball kick, from his hanky-sized kindergarten compound, created the moon crater, the same that existed when, we, his grandparents, or our grandparents, or those before them, were still amoebas. The ball somehow always bounces back, only for his next kick to hurtle it across the galaxy, whizzing by the planets, whose names he rattles off like a stargazer. On the nights of the poornima moon, we do skygazing together from my bedroom window!

Technically, it’s not the TV that’s idiotic or wise – it’s an object. It’s us humans with superior brains that choose to blank ourselves out and let the idiocy and commercialism absorb into our very beings. And for all its negative impact, it kept the young and very young entertained and out of my hair when I needed space, and inadvertently bridged the gap between us!

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