‘Lies!’ she shouted, ‘all lies! The dog simply couldn’t have swallowed the remote. Not possible.’
I said, ‘I’m sure he has. Just look at his smug face. He obviously doesn’t like watching the serial that you like. So he’s just gone and swallowed the remote.’
‘But why in the name of…’ she paused to choose the word or words that may fit here, ‘…Modi Sarkar does a dog have to swallow a remote?’
Because this dog may not be a fan of your serial with all its melodrama and villainous bahus,’ I replied, and then quickly added, ‘I think only you can take him to the vet now. I have a lot of blogging deadlines to meet.’ Even my father gave a look of helplessness, pointed to his abdomen, and said, ‘I have too much here and can’t move.’
So it was my mother and my wife who finally walked out with the dog in a leash. I went over to the balcony and watched them drive away. Then I turned back and waved to my father who put his right hand inside his shirt front and, with a smile, pulled out the remote.
‘It’s IPL time!’ we shouted in a chorus and as he switched on the TV, I went to the kitchen to get some Pepsi and our favourite flavour of Lays wafers.
Now if you think this is how we get to watch our cricket matches, you’ve guessed it correctly. We call such days ‘cricket by chance’ and the other days when we are not able to get hold of exclusive time on the television, we sulk a bit and go and watch starsports dot com on the small screen of our iPhone5.
‘I tell you,’ said my father, ‘cricket on a 40 inch LED screen gives me the right boost. It is far better than taking another tablet for my blood pressure.’
‘And when the remote is with the opposition?’ I asked.
‘Ha! Ha! Ha!’ laughed my father and said, ‘They’ll be watching their melodrama in the dog clinic today.’
Ploy. Trick. Subterfuge. Strategy. Plan. Scheme. Call it whichever way you want to call it, this is what happens in our home. I’m sure something like this must be happening in a lot of homes. We are all romantics at heart and have given these manoeuvres a title: Battle for the Remote!
And by the way, it isn’t just cricket that we love it is cricket on a big screen that we relish. I know the fight for getting the custody of the remote is getting harder so we are also seriously thinking of buying an iPad with retina display that will be kept only for cricket, now that the starsports dot com app is such a hit.
Obviously, you cannot get away with hair-brained ideas like the dog having swallowed the remote, every time… and we do have to jog our brains to stumble upon the most brilliant idea every other day. Let me tell you what we did to watch that crucial match between Mumbai Indians and RCB.
The television was on. Some serial with garishly dressed obese and pouting women strutted around the set doing something meaningless and saying things that nobody ever remembers… and I was in the Study, completing my weekly column for the newspaper. My father was sitting right behind me, trying to concentrate on the small screen of his smartphone.
It was my father who finally said, ‘No, we either go for at least a 7 inch screen tab or think of another ‘strike and capture’ the remote plan.’
I said nothing and kept focused on my article. I heard my father give an impatient cluck and shuffle out. After about ten minutes he was back and I noticed the sparkle in his eyes. I had just emailed the article to the editor, so I turned to him and asked, ‘You look thrilled, papa ji.’
‘I am,’ he said, and waved the remote before saying, ‘come, lets watch the mighty Gayle hit a few sixes!’
We watched the match… and to my surprise, both my mother and Specky too joined us and were rather participative. This did surprise me but I dismissed it as one of the quirks of fate that brings in rainfall even in the Thar. The mystery, however, was cleared in the night when I entered the bedroom to read and then sleep. I saw my track lowers and a tee-shirt kept on my side of the bed, so I just picked them up and started walking towards the wardrobe to keep them back. I thought Specky, my wife had forgotten to keep them in.
I stopped when I heard Specky address me, ‘They are for you to wear when we go for our morning walk.’
‘Morning walk? But I intend to read until late and it will be so difficult to get up at 5:30,’ I protested. This business of morning walks was a regular point of debate between the two of us. Specky is convinced that only my morning walks can get my weight back to 57 kg from the bloated 76 that I am now. And I have trying to sell her the idea that we actually need a treadmill that will give me the freedom to walk in my own Study even as I read a book balanced on it’s hand rest.
‘No,’ insists Specky, ‘a treadmill is one big fantasy. All my friends have one at home and all those machines are now folded up or lying unremembered under the bed. A morning walk is the only solution.’
Because of this I looked at and sighed, ‘Do you want to get into a walk or treadmill debate now?’
What she said at this point left me stunned. She told me that my father had made a solemn promise that if all four of us watched that IPL match together and the two ladies remained involved in it and enjoyed it, he would make sure that I, Arvind, got up and went for my morning walk. Now this came as a real stunner to me because in this strategy I was made the scapegoat by my own father! I remember my protesting but Specky was firm and said, ‘The other clause was one match and six days. By this calculation, we go for morning walks throughout the year and in return we watch the all the IPL matches together.’ The calculations were correct and I actually applauded the ingenuity of the strategic planning of my father. He had ensured his match-watching at my expense. Now this certainly took him one step ahead of the great Sun Tzu, the Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher.
No, I am not going to tell you here if I agreed to this great plan… all that I am going to admit is that cricket makes us go to any extremes. But we love our strategies… just as we love each of the IPL games.
To be truthful, we are actually waiting desperately for our large screen tablets so that we can go online on the starsports dot com app and watch our matches without getting into controversies. I’m sure the day isn’t far now.
16 May 2014