Household Warfare

Ah the 90s. The decade I most fondly remember like it was only yesterday (or decade before yester-decade?) Some of the more important technological revolutions that today would look like a footnote happened back in the 90s. Back then, TiVo, Blu-Ray, social networking, twitting, free online downloads and gazillions of bytes worth of space online seemed like something that was nearly next to impossible. Back then a laptop the size of a current netbook would cost twice as much as today’s high-end laptops with probably a fraction of the performance specs. The Pentium II processor was marketed to look like if it was the second coming of Christ, any kid in school would be cool if he could keep clicking a 1.44 MB floppy diskette’s snap, mIRC was social networking PERIOD, Sonic and Doom were the pinnacle of video gaming, and VCDs were treasured and protected so much to not let a scratch on them!

And lets not forget the most significant one, that of Dish Antennas and Satellite Receivers.

It was a breakthrough in more ways than one. Gone were the days when PTV and NTM would be the mainstays of any television set. With Dish Antennas and Satellite Receivers, viewers would have a near unlimited choice of accessing channels across the world. It was only a matter of positioning the dish and configuring LNBs to the right wavelength to get the signal. Brands like Winersat, Pacific, etc would become the most popular devices in the market, and naturally the most re-sell-able as is a requirement of Pakistani standards. The status quo was easily measured if a person had a fiber dish or a netted dish, and then you had the ones with the electronic motor and those who could afford decoders for the paid channels.

Of course the average person wouldn’t delve into the technicalities a whole lot. That spot is for one member in the family: the nerd obviously 😛 The rest of the family had dishes for one reason only: Entertainment. And boy were they entertained! Ranging from Indian movie trailers, songs, movies, game shows, music countdowns, drama series, cartoons etc., the whole family would be thoroughly entertained. While dishes are a rarity these days in the age of cable and TiVo, it did leave behind 1 very significant legacy that will forever change the viewer preference on TV.

A “must watch show” for any dish owner was the famous comedy series “Tu Tu Main Main”. Airing initially on Zee TV and later Star Plus, the show revolved around a domestic Indian urban family, particularly the mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law and their daily squabbles, fights, feuds, arguments… you name it. The two couldn’t stand each other and were stuck together with their husbands who, try as they might to cool things down, ended up getting abuse from the combined duo who forget their bitter rivalry and join forces to take on every challenge in front of them. Truly an oddball and odd-couple premise, which managed to run for an entire decade’s worth of episodes (either new ones or reruns).

However, the show would leave a larger impression in the minds of people watching, especially here in Pakistan. Every day that the two fought over petty arguments, every family that I knew would start talking about it and try to analyze what would have happened if it was them in their place, or if similar situations would happen here. The Mother/Daughter-In-Law feuds started circulating a lot more than commonly heard of, with news going around of fights happening between them, which eventually and unfortunately led to more grisly conclusions. The society at large would be embedded with a general idea that come hell or high water, the Mother-In-Law and Daughter-in-Law cannot, cannot, CANNOT Co-Exist!

Enter the 2000s and we had the fallout from TTMM’s legacy : Indian Soap Operas.

Made on exorbitant budgets and featuring all the glitz & glamour worth craving, these soaps featured rich society families with bank balances no less than 100 Crores. Attired all in designer jewelry and saris (wonder who would keep track of all that gold), the stories would revolve around the rich & influential mother-in-law always scheming to get rid of her doting daughter-in-law who she has always hated. Reasons include: not her choice for her son, her son fell into love, the girl trapped her “bouncing bundle of joy” etc. Every episode would feature 1 hour of a day; and I mean that literally: 1 WHOLE HOUR of a particular day crammed into 30 minutes. In each episode, the calendar is limited to the hours of the day while covering the scheming Mommy-in-Law and the poor girl-in-law trying to stand up to the man (wo-man?)

While over-bloated production standards of these shows is a different argument altogether, the psychological impact on the viewers has been deeply scarring. Conventional mothers now are of the firm belief that it’s their duty/responsibility, nay GOD GIVEN RIGHT, to intervene and scheme against their prospective daughter-in-laws and make sure that their son’s hate them too. The End Result: society at large today is born & brought up embedded with a general idea that come hell or high water, the Mother-In-Law and Daughter-in-Law cannot, cannot, CANNOT Co-Exist!

Perhaps it’s a rite of passage that all daughters need to go through the abuse to become more evil when they turn into MILs, but the question is… do they really have to? Seriously thinking, does no one in their right mind want a home full of harmony and peace? Why is it that homes have to become the battleground for petty arguments like not adding salt to the food or taking too much time clearing out the dishes, not taking part in the overall household activities etc. It creates a lot of unnecessary tension and ridiculously high blood pressure levels for family members, who instead of spending all day scheming and fighting, could find peaceful and harmonious activities to do. Or just mind their own business, how bout that?

So, to all the soon to be mothers in laws or married women etc; to quote the great Tom Jones:

“WAR

What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing!”
Right on!

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