Pastimes with good company
Ahem… And then it wasn't long before my uncle bought a console (of course, I didn't know they were called that back then) for me and my brother. Wow… That was one helluva defining moment. It felt magical when I played Mario for the first time, and a birds-eye view game called Tank 1942 where you controlled these tanks to kill these enemy tanks and you had to protect this eagle surrounded by bricks which would crumble to dust if they got hit by enemy tanks and if you 'ate' power ups, your own tank got bigger and you could like blast those baddies with a single press of a button! Oh man!! That was so cool!
And suddenly, there came this radical new thing called a computer. And before you know it, things were… (almost) 3D. You could do things with a whole new wide perspective. Cricket… just didn't seem all that interesting. I mean, here was this game where you could control this psycho helmeted dude wielding sawed-off shotguns and super weapons that could turn you to plasma residue, blasting through this demon-infested planet of a hellhole… until you realized that the 30th level simply cannot and was not meant to be beat, and you can do nothing but be helplessly devoured and digested by the hundreds and hundreds of cacodemons and pain elementals…
But, the outside world held some curious satisfaction, yet. There was some strange and energetic pleasure in hitting that wooden ball over the fences- a particularly invigorating pleasure followed after a shattering of glass. There was an addicting adrenaline in chasing after a ball and kicking it with all your might always hoping that it was a better kick than your favorite professional football player. And there was also a strange satisfaction in sweating like a pig under the scorching sun, only to be cooled a moment later by the coolest breeze ever. And then, when everything's played done, that bottle of chilled coke always hit the spot.
But, times change. And nothing remains the same forever. The fields that you loved to play in were no longer fields, but construction sites for an apartment building. You look for alternates, and you find one. But only for a while, before it too is seized for constructive purposes. Until finally, you have no alternates but to bleakly strike that stupid little ball in the street, hoping that you won't hit someone, or someone's car. Because if you do, you're out. And then, that too, is taken away from you. What's left? Outdoors just doesn't seem interesting anymore- there's just too many… restrictions and limitations and prohibitions.
And suddenly, some day, you buy this thing called… a Playstation, or you get a new computer, and… Well, what do you know? Look at that, would ya? The details are just… stunning. And that little place inside you, where this little golden thing called hope is, just lights up. Because… here was this contraption which offered a horizon that was further than any you've ever known. The possibilities were limitless. One moment, you are tactically taking out several enemy aircrafts with but only eight veteran commandos. And the next moment, you're taken to this world, where there are these dragons, knights, princesses, magic and an ancient evil that only you can defeat. A world where you could do anything you wanted, and nobody would come to build stupid buildings on. It was the best thing that happened. And it simply just got better and better every year.
The next generation of technology made these exhilarating experiences all the more better- Xboxes, Playstation 2s, and so on- it never got boring, because there was so many things to do. And you didn't have to deal with broken noses, battered ribs, and cranky old neighbors. It was at your fingertips, you were nearly god and it was just freaking awesome.
The outside world was nearly all but forgotten, because it could no longer hold the wonders of technology, and because there wasn't much of a choice. Parents didn't want their children to go off on their own to some unknown place with so many unknown dangers. Why not keep their children satisfied at home, where they could keep an eternal eye on the little ones? It was a win-win situation, and not a lot of people complained. Much.
Times change. And if we don't change along with it, we may just find ourselves to be lost in a ramble of tangles. Remember, then, if you wish to. Remember pastimes with good company.
Youth wyll have nedes dalyaunce,
I'm a Barbie Girl
'Okay, tell me this. You've heard 'Barbie Girl' by Aqua, right?'
Dr. Who looks up, quizzical. 'I grew up in the nineties, kiddo. Of course I heard that song.'
'Did you ever pay attention to the lyrics? You know, the part where it goes you can brush my hair, undress me everywhere?' my voice rises a couple of decibels with every word. You can almost smell the indignation.
Dr. Who is unfazed. 'Do you think all those fashion designers started out? They started dressing their dolls up when they were kids. The process included undressing the dolls first.'
'Oh, excuse me! Are you suggesting that Dolce and Gabanna and Tommy Hilfiger got started by playing with Barbie dolls?'
'Has anyone ever asked Dolce and Gabbana whether they started off with nude plastic dolls or not? Most designers are...well, kind of into girly things, hence dolls.' Dr. Who flashes his typical smirk. 'Plus, Barbie dolls don't have any other functions. GI Joe's could be used in mock fights. Those tiny green soldiers could be used to have mock, turn-based battle with friends. But what does a person do with a Barbie except motivate the soldiers to fight for the puuurrty princess?'
'See, this is where you go wrong. Now the knights had it right. They had chivalry, and they gave a rat's behind about a lady's honor. Just fighting for a woman because she's pretty doesn't mean anything.'
'Pfft! What's the difference between fighting for a woman and defending her honor? Pray tell?'
'There…is…a…world…of difference.' I shake my head and snort, 'Men!'
'Listen, kiddo. Damsels in Distress always have to be pretty. Because the act of rescuing gets your adrenaline pumping. It effectively makes you half blind. If you go through a very hectic incident with someone, there will be emotional attachment which would of course, fall apart when everything switches back to real life. Watch the movie: Speed.'
'Are you suggesting that adrenaline makes you blind? Adrenaline is supposed to get your heart pumping and oxygen rushing to your lungs and your pupils dilating so that you can take in maximum light. I don't see the connection between adrenaline and blindness.'
'Adrenaline does get you blind. If it didn't, and the poor hero knew what he was getting in to, there would be no happily ever after.'
'So, you're telling me that for there to even be a happily ever after the girl has to be skinny and pretty and hopefully blond?'
'Yeah, why not?'
I snort again, explosively. 'THAT'S NOT A REAL WOMAN, DR. WHO! THAT'S JUST A FAKE BLOND BIMBO WITH PLASTIC PARTS AND A NOSE JOB!'
'Well, obviously. Listen, kiddo. There is a saying, "people praise the lion, but love the donkey". The women who get swept away into the sunset and end up on crazy bus rides fall in the former category. No wonder models can't keep hold of a marriage. Every good thing is a double edged sword.'
I pause to let his wisdom sink in. Then I snap back. 'WHAT DOES PRAISING THE DONKEY AND LOVING THE LION HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH MODELS AND CELEBRITY MARRIAGES?'
'Look,' he says, with a patient sigh that reeks of wisdom. 'People love models, but want to marry a normal girl in the end. Hence, models become depressed and what not. Drugs, anorexia, suicide, etc. etc. By the way, pretty girls are the ones who get into trouble most of the time. Again, watch Hollywood.'
'Girls can be plenty happy without guys in their lives. Look at Oprah. Or Ellen Degeneres. Or Hillary Clinton.' Dr. Who raises his eyebrows at me, opens his mouth to shoot something back, but I blaze on. 'And it's not like only pretty airheads get into trouble. Thoroughly unattractive people get into the tabloids, too. Look at Hugh Hefner's Playboy playmates.'
The mere mention of Playboy playmates brings a grin to Dr. Who's face. 'Don't you dare say anything about the Playboy Bunnies.' (I swear, I can almost see him drool). 'They are definitely worth the trouble.'
As an afterthought he adds, 'Plastic may have good sides, but seriously, faces bloated from Botox are not my cup of tea. Age gracefully, people.'
'You know what? I think that's part of the problem with Hollywood. You're not allowed to be human. If you're a kid, you have to grow up too fast. And if you're hitting your mid-life crisis, then you have to start doing Pilates five hours a day so that you don't get fat. Look at Britney Spears. Look at Miley Cyrus. These are girls who're growing up too fast, and we all know what happens when that happens.'
'The train wreck that we know as Britney Spears is partly our own fault, you know. And partly, I might add, because of that stupid husband of hers.'
'The thing is, we all set her up and others like her to be real life Barbie dolls, and look what happened. It all came crashing down around them and their deviated septums.'
And Dr. Who and I shake our heads and say (not together, but almost), 'Sheesh. Hollywood.'
By Hu and Dr. Who
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