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The art of surviving on a tropical island

Does the idea of being stranded on a beautiful island with a bunch of strangers seem inviting? Not if the strangers include the kind of oddballs you see on the reality show Survivor (Star Plus).

tv Updated: Jan 21, 2012 00:54 IST
Poonam Saxena

Does the idea of being stranded on a beautiful island with a bunch of strangers seem inviting? Not if the strangers include the kind of oddballs you see on the reality show Survivor (Star Plus). And especially not if the accommodation and F&B on this tropical paradise are so basic as to be non-existent. If the conditions on the island are really as bad as they seem (that is, if the contestants are not slyly tossing back pina coladas and jumbo fried prawns on the side, and honestly there’s no reason to believe that they are), then the idea of being marooned on an island for 45 days with zero facilities is about as inviting as the idea of living with random people from your neighbourhood and surviving on birdseed for 45 days.

There is an escape chute on Survivor though — you can always, if you want, voluntarily drop out of the game and go home. But no one wants to — not even when a near and dear one could be on the verge of dying. (I’m not being morbid here; one of the contestants, Giselle, was told that her grandmother may be dying, so would she like to go home? Giselle said she’d rather stay on in the show. But her companions, or more accurately, members of her ‘tribe’ voted against her and she had to leave anyway. I leave you to make what you will of Giselle’s decision. And yes, the contestants are divided into ‘tribes.’ The celebs’ tribe is called Catan and the ordinary people’s tribe is called Tayak. Don’t ask).

So what are the contestants doing on their islands? Mostly just trying to survive given the lack of bedrooms or kitchens (or even a bed or stove). They’ve had to build shelters for themselves. They subsist on coconuts and rice (Survivor might consider advertising the show as a weight loss camp, given the non-stop whining about how everyone is dying of hunger). On top of everything else, going to the loo is a challenge, since there are no proper toilets. It’s also a rather, err..., delicate issue with the tribes. In one of the episodes, we were treated to extended footage wherein a member of the commoners’ tribe, Rishi, complained bitterly and at great length about another tribe member, Michael. Apparently Michael would do his business here, there and everywhere and not even bother to cover the incriminating evidence with sand.

But what I want to know is this: despite so many life-threatening problems, how do Catan and Tayak (sorry, it’s not easy to say these names with a straight face) have so much energy to plot and plan and bitch about everyone?

(Just one other thing. Both tribes have to compete against each other at various tasks. Winners get rewards like fruit baskets and blankets. The losing team has to assemble at a ‘Tribal Council’ and vote for someone to be eliminated. Most of the tasks are very physical, but the producers might consider a spelling competition — believe me, no one would win. Sample some of the spellings the contestants have come up with when they were voting in the Tribal Councils: Giselle was variously spelt as Jezel and Gizel. Sylvie was spelt as Silvi. Is it really that hard?)

A new season of another reality show, Dance India Dance (Zee) has begun. This dance contest has what are probably three of television’s most entertaining judges: Terence Lewis, Remo D’souza and Geeta Kapoor. There is also a ‘Grandmaster’ above them — Mithun Chakraborty. The dancing is quite amazing — like a contortionists’ club. On the whole, enjoyable.