The husband has recently developed an inclination to read. He’s picking up books I never imagined he would. I’m talking non-Harry Potter, non-Jeffrey Archer, non-Matthew Reilly. One a month, on average, which is a lot for him. Even me, for that matter. He guzzling them faster than ever before. Faster than I have, in a long, long time. The euphoria of thumbing through book after book is new to him and the excitement got the better of him, leaving him feeling like he has entered the elusive inner circle of people who read books. To the extent that he suddenly felt no need for any other form of entertainment. For someone who could till very recently watch many hours of mindless TV at a stretch, that was really something.
I’ve grown up in a home brimming with conversation and music. The TV was turned on when there was something to watch. I have memories of waking up on weekends to the sound of The Beatles in the air, or the opening notes of one of my grand father’s early morning concerts. My dad worked at home, with music on. My mother filled her day with music of all kinds. And they exposed us to everything from Deep Purple, The Carpenters and CCR, to the doyens of Indian classical music. Through my teens and beyond, I grew up on music. I needed it when I was studying, going to sleep, in transit. Movies were meant to be watched at the cinema, not at home. When I tried watching them at home I merely fell asleep.
But the husband? His home thrives with the TV on. Its almost like normal life cannot go on, unless the din of some TV channel plays on in the background. No matter if anyone is really watching or not. So my post marriage memories, in a new home, tend to have a twisted TV chatter for a background score. Dinnertime conversations were incomplete without Hindi soaps distracting us every now and then. The Bangalore trend of weekends punctuated with one Hindi movie or another, have carried on into my home too.
Soon after we got married, one of the biggest purchases we made of all the money we were gifted was a spanking new 32” flat screen TV. And it has held us in good stead, ever since. When we moved to Goa, it was the single source of entertainment and my only connection to the world out there, in the absence of a newspaper, telephone or internet access. The husband can turn on the TV and watch anything. From shows that dissect boy toys and gadgets, to road shows that flaunt fancy bikes, to mindless Hindi movies (no matter that he’s probably watched each of them a gazillion times before), to some 3rd grade action flick. He’s the sort who needs the TV on to unwind after a long day.
So when he gallantly declared he wanted that he loved reading and was now ready to sell off our television, I was more than taken aback. I almost fell out of my chair, to be precise. Of course we didn’t act on it. I’m glad I didn’t feed into the thought. Because a few weeks ago, it was the TV chatter that illustrated how different we are as people. We’re like chalk and cheese, when it comes to the way we choose to spend our weekends.
I wake up to smell the chai brewing on my stove, while I potter around doing this or that and the other. I spend hours in front of my computer, catching up on reading, seeing what people are up to on facebook. Sometimes I pick up a book. At times, I work, I listen to a lot of music, I cook, I blog, I take pictures, I food-blog. And these days I go for a run to fill my head with fresh air and my heart with endorphins. Before I know it, Monday rolls along.
But the husband, he wakes up, grabs his cup of chai and turns on the TV. And from then on the entire weekend goes by listening to the incessant cacophony a la Idiot Box. Or worse still Die Hard, or some such. Which is often heavily laden with so much dramatic music and action-packed biff-kapow-bim-bam-boom sounds.
While outwardly, I crib and complain about the noise levels when I’m trying to read, write or just plain converse, inwardly I’m glad we balance each other out this way. In him, I see what it means to unwind, do nothing for a change. Even if that means to vegetate in front of the TV. Sometimes I feel the need to do it, and it doesn’t come naturally, so I have to often remind myself to slow down, disconnect, remove myself from the race I’m running. And in me, he sees the restlessness to get up and get going.
But most of all, I’m happy to note that books can make people feel like they can do away with the Idiot Box. There’s hope still.