The message filled me with dread but there seemed to be no escape. I gingerly typed k ( which is cooler than ok, which is much cooler than okay ) and waited for him to call. Seconds later he appeared on the screen, sleepy eyed and unshaven. This isn’t going to go well a small inner voice warned me, but sometimes no matter what, you have to do what needs to be done.
He had insisted and in a moment of weakness I had given in. My son had moved to USA and left his prized home theatre for me. My plea that I didn’t have much use for it as I am practically tone deaf didn’t deter him. The movers and packers didn’t deliver it on time so he had to leave without hooking it up. He assured me that installation was intuitive and I would be able to do it….and that he would help! And now the moment was upon me.
He instructed me to look for a wire with a round end, I found it in the tangle of wires he had left and helpfully asked if I should insert it in the round socket. Without missing a beat he suggested I try inserting it in the square slot. “Stupid question, snappy answer” I suspect he had learnt it from me. I hadn’t taught this but had said it so often, that he must have imbibed it. Clearly, I had started on the wrong foot. I was determined to redeem myself so when he next asked me to look for a wire with a trapezoid end, I quickly asked if he meant the HDMI cable. Somewhat surprised, he nodded. With some of my self respect restored I showed it to him. Now came the tricky part, tilting the giant, wall mounted screen to insert it in its back. Squinting in the dark, sweating profusely from the effort, I located it among the million other sockets and stuck it in.
With my confidence growing, under his watchful eye I made a couple of other connections till I ran out of luck. He asked me to ensure that the right speaker is positioned on the right. Confused, I asked, “My right or the TV’s right?” I still think it is a very legitimate question because when I face the TV my right becomes the TV’s left. He scoffed and said that objects don’t have sides. I decided not to argue, he was talking in monosyllables anyway.
When all the connections were made I tried to switch on the system but the remote did not work. He told me to put in new cells, but I couldn’t open the lid. I tackled it with increasing force and frustration, all the while sensing mounting frustration from the other side of the screen. Exasperated, he blurted that it could not be as difficult as I made it look and asked me which part I was trying to slide. The next few moments were a revelation and have changed the way I look at the world. He explained that the long panel came off while the tiny lid like thingy stayed. To my mind this is definitely counter intuitive. If the back cover of a gadget is divided into unequal parts the smaller is removable, the bigger is fixed. An unwritten rule but a rule nonetheless. Seems this was another concept that I had to unlearn. My son ignored my laments and once again I relented. In any case there were more pressing matters on my mind. It was nearing midnight and I had realised that I didn’t have the much needed pencil cells. I roamed the house like a zombie looking for gadgets from which I could retrieve them. Finally took out two from the kitchen clock and two from the remote of my set top box. I rejoiced that the job was done but fate was to test me further.
After checking that the home theatre was duly ‘installed’, my son wanted me to switch on the set top box to ensure that it was receiving the requisite signal. It’s remote lay lifeless on my bed, with its belly ripped open. I trust the reader to guess what happened next so will skip those details and fast forward to the next morning. I switched on my favourite TV programme and the background score was music ( of a much better quality ) to my ears. Maybe I am not as tone deaf as I thought….or maybe just maybe, the previous night’s experience had sharpened my senses.
( published in the Hindustan Times on 12/09/2018)