The 'Remote' Ethics
by Vimala Ramu
Sharing a ‘remote’ is a fairly recent concept. When TV channels proliferated and people took unique pleasure in the new game called ‘surfing’ the ‘remote’ became a convenient accessory.
With one TV set in the house and more than one member in the family with preferences for different channels, possession of the ‘remote’becomes a matter of conflict in the family. The father wants news channels, failing which it would be ‘Discovery’ and other ‘nature’ ones; mother for serials; son for MTV etc if adult or Cartoon network if younger, daughter for foreign serials and fashion channel.
With just two of us at home, ‘remote’ never posed a problem. Husband would watch from morning till 7 in the evening in staggered sessions. I would watch my preferred channels till 10 O’ Clock in the night, undisturbed _unless there was a day and night cricket match. I wasn’t averse to watching cricket within limits.
Thus it went on peacefully at home.
Once we went to the Command hospital for a consultation for my husband. Since I too wanted an outing, I accompanied him. While he was waiting/seeing the doctor in his room, I waited for him in the Officers’ waiting room.
This room had two rows of comfortable sofas, single and multiple facing each other with a low table in between. There was a television set mounted on the wall between. With no cable connection, most of the channels were very grainy. As for the sound, it was more of static than anything else. Still, I happened to catch a movie ‘Gridiron gang’, a movie about American football where the morale of one of the teams is built up by a coach. With English subtitles, the movie was easy to follow in spite of the grains and the static. I had left the ‘remote’ on the arm of my sofa.
I was watching the movie with great interest which was nearing the climax, when I saw a lady in salwaar kameez coming in and sitting on the sofa opposite to me.She looked quite fidgety. A little later, through the corner of my eye, I could register her coming and sitting next to me on the next single sofa. A little while later, the channels kept changing fast. I was wondering as to what had gone wrong with the TV set, when I noticed that this lady had appropriated the ‘remote’ and was frantically searching for a news channel which could give the news whether Ramdev had broken his fast or not. When she could not find one, she lost her patience, switched off the TV and slapped the ‘remote’ on the centre table. All this with nary a ‘may I?’ I was shocked at this lack of finesse on part of the lady. Of course, I did not own the TV, nor the waiting room, nor the ‘remote’. But even then, could she not have asked me once if she could change the channel? Not only did she not bother to do it, she even switched off the TV and put away the ‘remote’ out of my reach!
Good manners are not the monopoly of any country, nation or race. It is the basic decency one feels obliged to follow.
When will people learn these small things which go to make a pleasant person? As more and more gadgets are invented, one cannot expect manuals to be printed for ethical guidance. It should come naturally to one.
I of course, picked up the ‘remote’, fished out my channel and managed to see the last few scenes.