Wednesday, January 8, 2014

the leaning tower of 6/334 and the big fat Onida

I went to sleep after slowly placing the TV on top of that stand, which I adjusted by placing some paper under it, with a hope that it will not fall on top of the person sleeping under.  For that night, it was my turn and sleep was not an option.  When a lot of unwanted reels is running inside your head, when you are filled with anguish, sleep is a tough thing.  I rolled over that mat for hours, on which I slept every night, that "one man space" luxury available between the cot and cupboard.  I don't remember what time I fell asleep, but the tiredness caused by the earlier ruckus and the drama slowly pushed me into sleep.

TV stand:
My father started working as a site supervisor for a palm oil company in Willingdon Island and was one of their first employee.  So when the construction for their oil tanks started, he became friends with the contractor assigned to building tanks and their employees.  My father became so close to the contractor that we even went to his house to have lunch with his family.  So along with a gate for the house, the contractor agreed to build a TV stand as well.  Finally TV stand was delivered, two thin disks welded together to the edges of a small pipe.  The all metal 'thing' looked like a weird mold which can be used by a 15 year old to bench press. When placed in position it had a small tilt which we had to adjust using few pieces of paper. So it became our own mini version of "leaning tower"...

Television was a big luxury for most of the Indian families back in 90s and it was no different in my case as well.  As a kid, I remember going to neighbors house to watch sports, movies etc.  So when the TV at our house died (or taken away, I don't remember what exactly happened to that box), the viewership levels at our house went down drastically.  The women in the house were sad that they were not able to continue watching the soap serials/dramas that aired during that time (unlike today where they plague channel after channel during prime time, there were very few that I remember from back then - Good times huh?).  I was sad that our options to watch TV disappeared and had to go watch sports or basically watching what is 'ON' that time, at one of our neighboring houses.  This went on for years, I continued to watch TV at other houses which I picked based on what I wanted to see.  My father had to leave Kochi after being transferred for showing "over" respect to his general manager. From what I heard, he addressed him as "Kutta" (Hindi word for dog) instead of Gupta.  Poor guy, I'm pretty sure it was a slip of the tongue..

During the final stretch of his "life mission" to work all across India, initially posted at the company site in Haldia, West Bengal then at Jamnagar, Gujarat and finally at Ludhiana, Punjab - my father bought a TV.. So before one of his annual vacation trips back home, he listened to our cries and decided to bring back home the big fat Onida 'boombastic" (or whatever name they gave that model due to big side speakers on the rear).  I remember taking the TV box out of the train compartment - suddenly the pathway inside the compartment, it's door, everything seemed smaller than usual.  After a strenuous effort, we bought the TV outside and took it home.  Due to the weight of the box, I thought there was something else inside until "boombastic" came out.  We slowly placed it on top of our very own "leaning tower" and watched it for few minutes to make sure it doesn't collapse.

Furor inside house # 6/334:
 What we saw over the next few days was good times.  We get to watch all the sports and music, father watches news and others also got limited opportunity to watch their favorite TV shows.  After a month long vacation, my father went back to Punjab for work.  Now the real drama started - the rumblings of discomfort and annoyance around not able to watch the TV, favorite channels/programs started popping up slowly.  I believe, my grandmother was at the helm of boiling this up.  So one fine night, when the youngest uncle came back, he started yelling and shouting at us (I would be interested in knowing what brand of alcohol he guzzled that night - I will not describe the abuses that was hurled at me, brother and my mother) for not letting others in the house watch their favorite channels.  My argument was, TV came home based on our request, so others should be happy that they get to see something.  After an hour long debate, which involved adding a lot of new "words" to my personal dictionary and collecting quite a lot of "real life" experience, I decided to take "boombastic" and leaning tower back to our small room from the common space in the house. Though I was around 20 years old and felt like a ball of anger, I gave up on the argument with my uncle. So in one night, we added a TV and bumped up the luxury of our 10x10 feet living/bedroom (where me, my brother and mother slept) to five star.  My uncle continued to shout near the bedroom door followed by the big statement by grandmother to my mother, "You are not going to get this home - don't stay here hoping for that".  Before heading to bed, I went to my grandmother,  smiled at her and told that we don't need the house or anything from her.  End to an eventful night!!

I found it funny that my grandmother was staying at "my home" when I left Cochin after a short vacation few weeks ago and my uncle visited our place couple of times.  Looking back, though I was filled with a lot of anger and disappointment over this whole commotion, I am glad that I don't hold any grudge with any of the characters involved after so many years and very happy that I got a great story to talk about.  We all live only once so let us make it a beautiful one and to quote Swami Vivekananda "all differences in this world are of degree and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything"

P.S. - I am pretty sure, with his 'Kochi' attitude, my father purposely called his general manager 'Kutta'!! Yes, I lied earlier about "slip of the tongue" - hey, someone had to support my father right?

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