That night I was watching a TV show. Like always, it was a hit, especially among the young adults. The theme was about certain handpicked celebrities locked up in a house. Under the roof it looked more like a setting in a reality show which actually was.
The participants (most of them were strangers to one another) were bickering all the time, and in a particular episode one of them was throwing tantrums on the floor.
Soon the idea of the show became obvious. The producers of the show were testing the participants how long could they last on the floor while putting up with the other contestants’ constant infighting, not to speak of some added 'masala' of manipulations in interpersonal emotional equations. The ambiance of the living room of the house was attractive enough for voyeurs from the middle-class urbanites like me. A thing I did not digest was how the participants digested their own cooked food made with their own hands. The crux of the show was how the contestants attracted the viewers to vote for them along with their fellow inmates.
The 'house' was porous with the hidden cameras leaking out some of the choicest snippets of the inmates’ movements around the house during their various nightly activities. Microphones grabbed even the discreet gossips at the lowest level of decency. No wonder voyeurism became the USP of visual media. I don’t know whether it is good or bad. Viewers from the comfort of their living rooms wished to see how badly the characters on the screen had felt and behaved at random points of time unobserved.
Well, after a few more episodes I was getting more curious of the tidings. One day, a contestant was showed the door by the conductor of the show for misbehavior/violence. I felt rather sad for that inmate who was evicted thus. Ironically the same character reentered a few episodes later.
By the way, I remembered my mother-in-law's (RIP) visit once. She stayed for a whole week in our modest house. During her brief visit I was silent most of the time. I showed respect even to my kids. I was helping out in the kitchen. While watching the TV, I was not as much outspoken, not even on politics or weather of the day. My wife discovered the new change in me, and kept inviting her often enough there onwards.
Well, coming to the present reality show, I approved it finally. Those few episodes gave me many practical lessons as to how I should communicate with the rest of the society including strangers and members of family alike. They include guests, neighbors, co-travelers in the public transport, et al. Next I learned how I should present myself in testing times, to be honest and show it on the floor at the same time, or for that matter even in my sleep; I should not make noises, how forthcoming I should be in my total personality in a positive way to live and let others live; how I should win others hands down at the very first instance, and that no acting will help in this world when people judge you the first minute you are in the open just like a book.
But it was not the whole story, for the simple reason that public opinion is governed by the stereotypes. One has to neutralize those ‘stereotypes’ to be in the good books of those one favors. Some ‘stereotypes’ are: Hey, which part of the land are you from? Whether you came from rich or influential family that I know of? Where did you study? Is he or she fair-skinned? What accent he or she has? How he/she dresses about? What perfume you wear? And the list goes on.
I learned that I should fight these stereotypes, which are the odds in the society. Also I need to train myself not to be overpowered by those stereotypes myself while judging the others.
Finally it dawned on me, thanks to the show which in fact was a model sociological project, that petty strategies are paper thin in larger world. Even a kid can put holes in them and tell where one is foul or fair. One should decide to be honest and win the approval of the full and open, big house, called 'life' which in fact is the real big boss.