I surfed TV channels the other night looking for binge-watching, addictive entertainment and came across an infomercial channel that was selling instant hair.
“Go to sleep”, giggled my wife as she passed through the living room. “You are lucky you do not need to dye your greying hair since there is no hair on your head,” she said, as I glared at her.
North American TV is infamous for its infomercials that sell ridiculous stuff such as a jiggling belt you attach to your enormous beer belly or love handles (in the case of women). When you switch it on, it jiggles your tummy and eventually you will have a toned six-pack like Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan.
The jiggling belt is also guaranteed to reduce cellulite from your fat thighs, but I presume it leaves you with a speech impediment and you begin to speak like you have seen a ghost. “Ddddddarlllling, pppppleeez hit the damned oooof swwwwitch!”
Then there was a handsome, tanned, brown chap walking around the screen showing off his mansion in the background, with a swimming pool and a luxury car parked near the front door.
It was an infomercial selling a time-tested method on how to get rich. If I had followed his advice, I would have been filthy rich like a diamond merchant, and would never have had to worry about where my next pau-bhaji is going to come from. But then I would have had to learn how to influence bankers to issue fraudulent LOUs (no, LOU does not mean “Love” in Twitter slang). Years have gone by but infomercials are still running on TV and they have now moved to India with its massive market, and the hustlers have shifted from late-night slots to early evening where the family members can watch and order the products.
I found the kitchen equipment fascinating. One dainty, tiny woman was holding an enormous evil-looking machine that looked like something that only Q, the MI6 boffin in a Bond movie, would have invented.
It had a range of blades, choppers and blenders spread out on the table, like various killing implements. The machine was like an Artificial Intelligence chef, it could chop onions without a tear in the eye, and slice a watermelon evenly, while feeding the cat.
I wondered how it would work in our home. “Wife, can you please pass me number six, that chops and peels carrots?”
Wife: “Can’t we let Shanta do the cooking? All she needs is a knife and there will be less things to wash later.”
Me: “Cooking is a science. It’s chemistry. The way you chop a veggie enhances its taste, and there should be mixing of the right spices, and light sauteing, unlike Shanta who over-boils it into a mess.”
Since health and fitness is a new fad among the young, the TV infomercials target them selling them something called a medicine ball. You lie on this huge ball on your stomach and roll back and forth, and that is supposed to reduce your beer belly that is sloshing around in your pants because of the all that junk food you consume.
For good posture, you sit on it and balance while you are working on your computer at your workplace. Some people would never be able to do the balancing act as many tend to eat heavy lunches and may doze off and fall off the silly ball when the evil boss is passing by.
The grow hair instantly came in bottles that looked like fancy pepper shakers and all you had to do before going on a date was to shake the hair fibres on your head. The only thing they did not advise was to not sneeze vigorously, or let your date touch your head.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi