TV Woes?

Every day evening, once I get back home from work, I get into my kitchen to cook up something to quieten my growling tummy. And since my apartment is on the tenth floor, and my kitchen has huge windows, I’m afforded a clear view of all the apartments across mine. And the one thing that I always notice without fail, is the presence of the TV (yes, I can see into their living rooms) in their homes, invariably turned on. Now, don’t mistake me for a voyeur. I am far from that but this one phenomenon is something that is rampant in every single home I can see. People do their cooking, eating, putting clothes out to dry and what not while always keeping an eye on the TV. I have never seen a family having dinner together around the dinner table with lots of laughter and talking surrounding them. If it is there, its from some TV show for sure.

I am no saint. I have a TV at home too and it is normal for me to have it on in the background while I am cooking or going about my daily chores. But it is more out of a necessity to have some noise around the house than to watch something on the TV. There was a time in my life when I used to be addicted to the television. When I was in school and college, I would come home and plonk myself in front of the TV and watch for hours on end till Mom came out and yelled at me to get my ass off the couch or I realized it was time for Dad to get home. It was like this insatiable craving back then. No amount of time in front of the TV was ever enough. And it was not like I would watch a few shows consistently. No siree. I would flip through channels and watch whatever caught my fancy for a bit before moving on. During college days, most of my TV watching was restricted to MTV and Channel V and sundry other local channels that catered to one’s appetite for anything and everything filmy.

Back then, I guess, it was the cool thing to do. To watch the latest movie songs and trailers and critique SRK’s looks or gossip about some new actress who had just acted in her debut movie. It was cool to discuss movie dialogues and locales and clothes and what not. The next best thing was English movies. So we watched Star Movies and HBO and sometimes Star World to educate oneself on everything Hollywood and hence translated to something that was even cooler. Then postgraduation happened and time spent in front of the box was significantly curtailed, rather, it became non- existent. One never had the time to indulge in such frivolous pastimes. There were other more important things to pay attention to- like classes and projects and business fests.

Even then, all this, in no way interfered with the amount of time devoted to the television once one was home. Then it was essential to pay homage to this marvel one had missed so much during one’s time at college. And to be honest, my postgraduate days was when I watched the maximum number of movies. Someone would get their hands on a stash of movies and it would be passed on from one portable hard disk to another at the speed of light. Plus, the city we were residing in back then had a thriving pirated CD business. So we were always up to date on all the latest movies. But TV was still missed.

Once I started working, TV became a habit again. I was living with a bunch of other girls. Most of them never watched anything remotely related to Hollywood. So, I had to sacrifice English movies and shows and fall in with the majority choice of everything Bollywood. There were a lot of Tamil and Malayalam and even Kannada stuff thrown into the mix. But then, TV was more like background noise. Someone would switch it on in the morning which meant that when I woke up the TV would already be on. And late night someone would switch it off when whatever they were watching was over. There were even some nights when people fell asleep in front of the TV and it would go on playing till the wee hours of the next day when someone spotted it and turned it off. And with the pressure of work and deadlines and travelling and the tiredness that completely took over me at the end of the day, I hardly had time for TV.

After I got married and moved cities, it was a totally different story. I was not working and TS would leave for work early. I would fill my days with my usual household chores and then some reading and other creative pursuits. But after a while the whole house would be eerily quiet and lonely and I would start to fidget. And to get over the quiet and the boredom that assailed me, I would switch on the TV. Those days I would do everything in front of it. Eat, sleep, read, draw, paint, cook- everything. And it would stay on till TS was home. And so, the TV was part of my daily routine once again. But then I had long stopped watching MTV and stuff and watched more of Star Movies and Star World and AXN and what not. I detested my dependence on the box, but my routine left me no other choice.

Then, I got a job and things changed. The box became something that was dispensable, sometimes even forgotten. We were both busy. We both had things to keep us busy. We had lesser time to spend with each other than before and so we started talking more and watching something we both liked together on our laptop. But even that was rare. Normally, we would just sit and talk. The TV would hardly be switched on, even on weekends. We went out for walks and to parks and other places. We talked. I read. TS went out taking pictures. I blogged. TS was busy editing pictures and slowly, the TV started fading into the background of our lives. And today, that’s the status. I do watch TV some days, when I find some show I want to watch like CSI or Criminal Minds. Some days I don’t switch it on at all. I turn to the TV only when I’m doing my chores and want some noise in the background. Else, I prefer to read or blog or blog hop or put my time to better use. And we both enjoy our time together much better now. The TV no longer dominates. It no longer interferes with conversation or a good meal or “cuddle time”. πŸ˜‰ It is there and I do watch it occasionally but, it does not dictate or take over my day as it used to.

What are your TV habits like?

I love big bags and I cannot lie.. ;)

I love big bags. You know, the kinds where you can stuff a person in there and still have place for some odds and ends? That kind. I cannot stand the teeny tiny barely there kinds. I need the space. And if you are wondering for what, you’ll be in for a loong list of things I simply must carry around with me wherever I go. I have always been someone who carries around a lot of stuff. I have everything from my water bottle to a book in my bag. And often times, I have to dive into the depths of my bag to find something urgently. Right from when I was in college, when I first divested myself of bulky schoolbags and rejoiced at the thought of carrying around proper ladylike bags, I have been a fan of the big ones.

Initially, it was because the big ones allowed me to carry my lunch, my bunch of books and my library books, my wallet, umbrella and everything else that I needed. Then, I guess I started getting used to carrying around the big ones. I did try a lot of times to buy the smaller ones that would let me carry enough stuff, or rather the stuff I needed but I just couldn’t kick the habit of the big bag. Every time I went bag shopping my eyes would be drawn to the bigger onesΒ  and I would end up buying one of them. I would have all kinds of stuff in my bag. You name it, I would have it. When I was in college it was- books, library books, umbrella, lunch, water bottle, wallet, hairbrush, deo, gum, pens, library cards, bus concession cards, safety pins, other girl stuff, mobile, loads of loose change, painkillers, my glasses, receipts, bus tickets and other odds and ends. It would amaze me, the amount of stuff that I could accumulate in the depths of that bag. I would clear it out once in a while and sometimes find the odd hundred rupee note or something I thought I had lost.

When I started my postgraduate studies, things were a little easier. I had lesser stuff to carry but my fetish for huge bags still reigned supreme. And I had oodles of stuff in my bag this time around too. Although I didn’t have to carry lunch or water or anything with me, I still had books and case studies, photocopies of notes, thumb drive, laptop, earphones, lip balm and on the occasionally chilly evenings, a sweatshirt too. It was almost criminal to have such a big bag and not have enough stuff to put into it. That was my philosophy back then I guess. Oh! and before I forget, I always had chocolate in my bag. Always. I still do.

Once I started working, I had to downgrade to a smaller bag. Not because I wanted to but because travelling in a local bus in a place like Chennai is like going to war.You end up fighting to get in and fighting to stand or sit and fighting to get out. A bigger bag meant more energy spent in getting in and out and really sore muscles in your neck. So out went in the big bag and in came the medium-sized bag. Even then, I had a lot of stuff in my bag- a book was a constant and so was an umbrella. Now I had sunscreen also to boot (else the Chennai sun would burn you to cinder). Some days I would have my lunch, I had my day planner, pens, loose change as always, phone and charger, earphones, everything from house keys to ATM cards and what not. But I still loved big bags and I missed them.

It was only after I got married and shifted base and started working here, that the TS was acquainted with my fetish for these huge contraptions. Poor TS had the misconception that I was a sane one till then. When he found out this disease of mine, he was flabbergasted. He couldn’t, for the life of him, understand why someone as tiny as me needed such a big bag. Now TS is someone who is as minimalistic as they come. If he could go to work carrying just his wallet and his cellphone he would. And he just refused to buy it when I told him everything in my bag was stuff I needed. TS decided to do something about this habit of mine and so one day, right after I got back home from work, he dumped all the contents of my bag on the couch and went through them. And then he passed his judgement. I carried around a whole load of crap he said. I carried around books I would never read (I cannot read while on the move). I carried around receipts for stuff I bought months ago. I carried around too much office stuff.

TS declared that I should promptly discard all my huge bags and get myself a couple of smallish ones. I refused. There was much sulking and many a tantrum at the end of which TS won. I had to give up my huge ones and switch to small ones where I now can stuff only my lunch and water, telephone charger, deo, hairbrush, ipod, a few meds and a lip balm. That’s it. All receipts I get are to be discarded within a week. I am not allowed to carry around heavy books that I will never read anyways. I am not to carry around the bulky umbrella I had. It has been replaced with a lighter version. I don’t carry too much loose change. Just enough for my daily snacks and stuff. The rest are in notes or I pay by card. My bag is considerably lighter these days although TS and my Mom still grumble I can make do without a few things. But I put my foot down and said no more downgrading. I am sticking to the bags I have now. Although I still miss my big ones. These days they come out of the closet only on my monthly visit to the library.

What kind of bags do you carry around?

Handwriting Woes…

The other day, as I was jotting something down for someone at work, I realized that my handwriting looked abominable. It was like someone had taken a mass of spaghetti and twirled it around in random patterns on a slip of paper. And I was shocked. For someone like me, who had won calligraphy contests at school and whose notebooks were considered prized possessions by teachers, to being reduced to a stage where even I couldn’t recognize my own writing was downright painful, to say the least. I remember my school days when I was so particular about my writing and would take special care to keep my books neat and tidy. I would write reams and reams of cursive in an attempt to improve my handwriting and sometimes I would even tear out pages from my notebook and write all over again if I had to cross out something or if my writing looks shoddy.

To be reduced to someone who can’t even figure out her own writing is a sad state to be in. And I have to say, I blame technology for this. Back then, you had to write everything down. You had computers and stuff but they weren’t as affordable as they are now and it definitely was not a priority for my family. So we wrote. In notebooks and margins of textbooks and “copy” books and record books. We scribbled in journals and planners. We wrote little notes on scraps of paper. We vied with each other to own the best quality pens available, because obviously, a better pen meant better and neater writing. We had calligraphy contests in school. We had teachers checking our books and giving us stars for good handwriting. And a good handwriting was a must especially when you were writing exams. Your writing had to be legible or the teacher would not even bother to read your answers.

We also wrote letters in those days. My Mom and Dad would make us write to our friends and relatives- both in English and our vernacular. We were taught to write in a straight line on unruled paper. We were taught to draw margins properly and we were taught good spelling too as a result. I still have a collection of letters and greeting cards from my friends and relatives. I still treasure those. They somehow hold more memories for me than e- cards and FB updates. I still remember the trouble we took to make cards for friends and family for their birthdays and other special occasions like friendship days. I remember the tons of diaries I have back home which show the evolution of a kiddish 10-year-old to a suave and smart 23-year-old. πŸ™‚ But I have to say my writing took a hit when I joined for my postgraduation That was when the era of Powerpoint presentations and word documents and pdf submissions and printed notes started. We had hardly any writing to do in class. But we did suffer during exams ‘cos then we had to reproduce what we had learnt on paper. It was hard to even hold a pen when you were so not used to it and I remember many an exam after which me and many of my friends would come out fingers all cramped up after 3 hours of non stop writing.

Employment only further destroyed what little bit of hold I had over my handwriting. All our work was done on the computer and not even once did a pen come in handy. We used it only when we were required to sign some random document and that was it. And so my writing pretty much disappeared completely. Friends were always a call or an sms away. There was no need to write letters any more, we had e- mail. Birthdays were wished on Facebook or if it was closer friend through a call. Sometimes we sent e- cards. We blogged and tweeted and slowly but surely lost whatever little connection we had with a pen and paper.

These days, I do try to scribble in journals when I get time. But blogging and FB updates and Twitter and the millions of other social networking platforms- some of them that grant you a virtual cloak of invisibility, have ensured that the tradition of journals are slowly dying out. And since my scribblings are few and far between and I spend most of my days and nights tapping away on a laptop, my handwriting has been grossly neglected. And I regret that. I hate losing something that is so much a part of me and my character. I hate being reduced to wondering how my writing looked like and looking at old notebooks and diaries and gushing over how good my writing used to be. I want to get back my writing- the good one, the one that was rightfully mine before technology came swooping down and made off with it. And so, I am going to start writing in my journal and my notebooks more often from now. I know it’s going to be hard to find the time to actually do that, considering I have a million other things that take up my time in a normal day. But I’m going to try. And I’m starting today. Care to take a pledge to write more? πŸ™‚