Watching the 'revolution' on TV is hard work

Published August 22, 2014
As the impending prospect of sudden change enters its second week; relationships are suffering; husbands are angry at wives, children at parents, sisters at brothers and so on. -Photo by AFP
As the impending prospect of sudden change enters its second week; relationships are suffering; husbands are angry at wives, children at parents, sisters at brothers and so on. -Photo by AFP

There is cleric at the helm of one 'revolution', a cricketer at the head of another. Both are now sitting in and standing off.

At this stage, just watching the two marches on television is hard work.

First of all is the formidable challenge to keep the parallel plots and agendas straight.

This may be easy for the handful of Pakistanis (mostly television commentators) who have been paying attention to Tahir-ul-Qadri and Imran Khan all along. For the rest of us fickle sorts with memories easily erased (necessary for survival in a country of frequent revolutions) it takes some mental effort to remember the grievances of each; the fraudulent vote issue belongs to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf and the massacre of innocent activists to Pakistan Awami Tehreek.

Follow: PTI, PAT protests: Political impasse continues

Both parties have some serious, substantive concerns; but march watching addiction has perpetuated other less discussed and more embarrassing scenarios.

It is rumoured that a significant swathe of Pakistanis have been forced to suspend their normal lives of working, texting and complaining about their bosses or their in-laws for a rapt, uninterrupted consumption of the televised revolution.

There they sit, their eyes glazed, their faces pallid from 10 days of total television watching, awaiting great change.

Also read: Azadi is here! But what does that mean?

At sudden, inexplicable moments and often to the shock and surprise of the wives or children, or husbands or mothers around them, they break into sudden song or inexplicable applause; such is the magnetism of jubilant crowds and rousing music of what is far and yet, so near.

A few have been known to rise up and sing the national anthem at similarly inopportune moments; in the middle of dinner, or during the call to prayer, or in that deep portion of the night when all others are asleep.

Unsurprisingly, as the impending prospect of sudden change enters its second week; relationships are suffering; husbands are angry at wives, children at parents, sisters at brothers and so on.

Then, there are the physical vagaries. The attendees of the march may be suffering from a lack of proper bathroom facilities, but the march watchers at home find themselves terrified of using the facilities that may be a few small steps from their march watching stations.

Also read: Who pays the bills?

The hesitation is understandable. No one knows when exactly the magnificent moment of complete transformation will take place; after all these days, all the hours and minutes, the calls missed and the emails left unanswered, it would be a terrible pity to miss the revolution all for an untimely call of nature.

Other lesser known spin-off conditions include the march diet, followed by a friend of mine who is using the addictive magnetic moment of march watching to shave off five pounds (or more); food it seems can be forgotten for radical change.

Another is planning a march fashion collection; durable enough to last the duration of the next dharna; with reversible scarves that would allow modification for the march colors of one party or another.

Television lends itself to trivialisation.

The content of the orators speeches; the nature of their grievances is serious; there is nothing funny about slain activists or fraudulent votes. The evocations of these grave issues, however solemn they may be, are interrupted with commercials for shampoo or mobile phones or whatever else; placing all of it in the context of the viewer’s consumptive needs, their “real” lives, the soap operas they will watch, the things they will buy when life returns to what it always was.

Photos: Protesters march towards Red Zone

As television channels and the now exhausted anchors flit between one march and another, boisterous nationalism in one second, religiously cast pathos in another, all of it casts a confused catatonia on the mute viewers on the other end.

Must life be suspended? Must it go on?

Is this truly a time for “celebration” as Imran Khan says?

Will corruption end in a few days as Tahir-ul-Qadri promises?

Millions of march watchers, listening, seeing, wondering, wallowing and suffering, have only questions.

Opinion

Editorial

Budget and politics
Updated 14 Jun, 2024

Budget and politics

PML-N, scared of taking bold steps lest it loses whatever little public support it has, has left its traditional support — traders — virtually untouched.
New talks?
14 Jun, 2024

New talks?

WILL this prove another false start, or may we expect a more sincere effort this time? Reference is made to the...
A non-starter
14 Jun, 2024

A non-starter

WHILE the UN Security Council had earlier this week adopted a US-backed resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza...
Budget for stabilisation
Updated 13 Jun, 2024

Budget for stabilisation

The proposed steps lack any “disruptive policy changes", especially to "right-size" the govt, and doubts remain on authorities' ability to enforce new measures.
State of the economy
13 Jun, 2024

State of the economy

THE current fiscal year is but another year lost. Going by the new Pakistan Economic Survey, which maps the state of...
Unyielding onslaught
Updated 13 Jun, 2024

Unyielding onslaught

SEVEN soldiers paid the ultimate price in Lakki Marwat on Sunday when their vehicle was blown up in an IED attack,...