Mental health gurus advise cutting off from the negativity in the world today and to switch off, but that’s not possible in India where TV news reaches you everywhere.
The Indian “news” channels (I have put the word, News, in quotes, because there are no news channels in India) give their opinion, very loudly, so most of your rational thought and thinking is taken away from you, and you can sit back and enjoy Bollywood music, movies or the TV reality show series, Big Boss.
The TV reality show puts contestants called Housemates in a specially constructed house, isolated from the real world and monitored constantly, just as your boss does in the workplace.
You begin to wonder if anything else is going on India, such as the coronavirus that has spiked recently and has made the country break a record of sorts, or the nosediving of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product, that shows the health of the economy and adds up consumer spending, exports, government spending and market value of all the products and service in the country)
If you land in Mumbai, you cannot help but notice that most of the TV channels are seeking the hanging of a pretty starlet, who was the girlfriend of an actor who apparently committed suicide.
Movie fan clubs in India are a very vocal and fiercely loving lot, and when their hero died, they went berserk and wanted to kill someone. (Indian movie fans in the south of the country have sometimes self-immolated or burnt buses when their idols passed away).
You begin to wonder if anything else is going on India, such as the coronavirus that has spiked recently and has made the country break a record of sorts, or the nosediving of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product, that shows the health of the economy and adds up consumer spending, exports, government spending and market value of all the products and service in the country) or the Chinese gaming app PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) being banned because of border skirmishes, and putting millions of kids in shock.
Barrage of bad news
Incidentally, the constant barrage of news about the deadly virus has given everyone Coronavirus fatigue, so the government decided to get everyone out of their homes and into metro trains, but the only hitch is that in Bengaluru, the IT hub of India for instance, the trains do not stop at crowded stations, so you ride the trains like a lost soul. (I once saw a Hollywood movie about souls trapped on earth and going around confused in subway trains).
The screaming of the TV anchors has unearthed one unexpected aspect of stardom, drug abuse, which not many Indians know about, because gold is the one addiction that everyone craves, and the other is cold beverages.
Millions of Indians hoard their gold in lockers and it just sits there. The reason why gold is hidden away is because there are tons of “chain snatchers” on the streets waiting for your pretty earrings or necklaces.
The drama continues
The drug angle in the story has brought out gangsters from the woodwork, who believe the crackdown on drug dealers is a political thing, and one dreaded gangster called up the chief minister of Maharashtra state on his landline to inform him that he would blow away his home with a bomb.
The drama has brought into the open the geographical differences of Indians. When an outspoken actor said Mumbai was as dangerous as “POK”, (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to Indians) and known as Pakistan controlled or Pakistan-Administrated Kashmir to Pakistanis, and the UN.
The spokesperson of the ruling party of Shiv Sena (Shiva’s Army) then threatened her a cuss word.
Immediately the star was given Y-level security from the BJP government in Delhi (that incidentally lost to Shiv Sena in the Maharashtra state due to political manoeuvring).
If all this gives you high blood pressure, not to fear, because India has also given the world, calming exercises as Yoga and de-stressing meditation techniques.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi