It was 8.30 in the morning when Chaddha ji rang my doorbell. Now, I’m not exactly anti-social but getting woken up on a Sunday morning by the most eccentric neighbour in the world is not my idea of fun.‘Are you alright?’ I asked him, noticing the expression on his face. ‘After today, it’s either she or me,’ he said, and I instantly knew I was to become an unwilling mediator to another domestic war between Chaddha ji and his better half. I must be drunk or drugged the day I offered to counsel them about their fights. Because trying to mediate between them is still okay, but listening to Chaddha ji go on a tangent every two minutes is stuff that ought to fetch a Nobel.
Anyhow, he went on, "She always wants to watch TV at the same time that I do. And always wants to switch over to some other channel. It is ridiculous to be fighting all the time over the TV remote. Even the Chinese don’t do it."
Using every bit of self-control in not paying attention to his last, totally irrelevant, reference to the Chinese, I said, ‘Storming out over the TV remote is silly. In fact, now that you are here, you’ve left her to watch what she wants to, in peace.’
"No, I haven’t," he replied, with a sinister look, tapping his right thigh furiously.
Before I could think he has completely lost control over his mind ... and limbs, I realised what he had done. He had left home with the TV remote in his pocket. ‘Hey, how old are you? Four?’ I asked, taking him back to his home.
After dragging Mrs Chaddha from under the sofa where she had parked herself, hunting for the ‘precious’ remote, I tried telling them that arguing over who gets possession of the TV remote is the most silly and uncommon reason to fight. Of course, I was lying. We all do it. I’ve grown up fighting over the TV remote with my brother, and am now in a constant battle with my child over who will have the ‘control’. A friend of mine, who is living-in with her boyfriend for two years, says she has no other problems with the arrangement except that ‘he wants to control the TV remote … all the bloody time.’
Another, who was so stressed with the constant fights in his home over the TV remote, told me that he’s found the perfect solution … he now has three TVs in different rooms. Everyone sits separately and watches what they want. Yuck. Is that a solution? I sometimes wonder the guy who’d invented television must have thought he’s done a great deed by making something that would bring collective enjoyment to a family. Does he know that his invention is now being used to ensure that the family members sit in different rooms all evening, just so they are not at each other’s throats? He would turn in his grave, if he did.
Anyhow, want calmness for those suffering from the TV remote stress?
Do not opt for multiple TVs and divide your family. Instead, divide the TV-watching time between all, in a way that everyone gets a fair share of the ‘idiot’ box. In today’s day and age, every single person in our families is anyway glued to screens from the morning — smartphones, tablets, computers, and then TV. When would we look at the real human around us? Is there a point in putting up emotionally worded Facebook statuses about how your family is your whole universe, when your universe is actually getting limited to screens of all sizes, and the same family getting ignored in the process.
Acquaint yourself with the repeat telecast timings of your favourite shows as well as technologies that now easily allow you to record programmes while watching something else. So that you don’t die of disappointment on missing some stupid episode of a stupid serial.
Pay attention to the words ‘idiot’ and ‘stupid’ in the above two points. In the larger scheme of things, nothing on TV is so earth-shattering that it should spoil the peace in your family. Surely not screaming anchors or panelists on news debates.
(Sonal Kalra took away the remote of Chaddha ji’s TV. The couple is too lazy to get up and change the channel. So these days they are happily watching whatever is on. Mission accomplished. Mail your calmness tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra)