Distance Education

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.

F50C4476-0BF7-4347-9BE6-DCCDE807E71CHe 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)

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16 thoughts on “Distance Education

  1. Anju Singh says:

    Wah…kya baat hai
    You can take out any word out of its world….
    So amusing writeup…
    What a proud son

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks for appreciating Anju….he is a proud son alright. Proud of me? I doubt.

  2. Mitra says:

    Why does it have to haPpen to us who are Smarties …
    Am lucky my kid wasnot saat sunder paar but just a thousand km away .For me it was a power point being designed …And the most dreaded sentence was ..Mom why do you have to wake up on the last night yo make your ppt …
    Enjoyed every word and so explicit I could imagine your mad search for the cells

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Self acclaimed smarties Mitra di? That’s what gets us into trouble….because we tend to overstretch ourselves, enter unfamiliar territory and then call upon our ‘human’ resources when we get stuck. Thanks for identifying with my situation….I could identify with yours…..have made sooo many presentations with them helping grudgingly. Each time I have to remind them “ nau mahine pet mein rakha tha”. And their answer “ then make the presentations like a mother would, keep it simple, why does everything have to be so complex!”

  3. Anjali Bansal says:

    What a beautiful write up . It shows exactly what younger gen goes through while interacting with us and vice versa . It does not reflect any disrespect or sarcasm, just plane fact and sentiments. Loved this truly dil se and infact read it twice.

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks Anjali. I am glad it struck a chord with you. Of course it is not disrespect…it is impatience! But yes they do come to my rescue every time. Btw You are in good company…my dad claims to have read it twice too

  4. Rajiv Gupta says:

    Bose also needs to be complimented for making “foolproof “ systems..

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      The foolproof system I may agree….but look at the remote Bhai…..which part looks like the lid ….

  5. Ritu agrawal says:

    While I was reading i was wondering how is it possible that the response from that end is so identical as u have described! !proud to say my kids r my guru!!!

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks for writing in ritu … yes children speak the same language all around the world… and so do we

  6. Dr Suman Bishnoi says:

    Dear Manju…
    beautifully written… as always ..
    I was imagining myself doing all that u did…… especially taking out cells from wherever possible …
    both my sons having moved away from home…

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks Suman di for appreciating as always… glad you could identify with the cell sequence…we are fundamentally the same

  7. Dr Alka Bansal says:

    It’s amazing how I listen to the story one morning and the next day it is in the newspaper. Beautiful write up!

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Oh yes our morning gapp session has become an essential part of my day. It was while I was narrating the story to you and say your response….that I realised it was worth writing about

  8. Dr Indu Jyoti says:

    Brilliant one like always .I admire your son’s patience Mere to bachche kehte he papa ko phone do

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Actually my son ran out of patience too…as soon as he heard sound on the set he said…bas ab baki ka didi se poonch lena unke pass bhi same home theatre system hai….and I asked what I was supposed to ask her since the system was working. He told me the output needs to be balanced on all the speakers….still haven’t got around to do that….an unbalanced music system is better than an unbalanced mind!

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