Sunday, 25 July 2010


At first glance there appears to be nothing common between the two; but, look closely and you will find various similarities. To start with both keep you from enjoying the scenery or whatever else you are watching, for example, the TV. Then, both have this quality that if you zap one there are many more to reckon with. Yet another similarity is that in a city like Mumbai both are everywhere; there is no way you can ignore them.

Mumbai authorities are convinced that the essential reason you are out driving is because you are fed up of ads on the TV and are ready for the real thing, that is, the hoardings. So, if you want to go anywhere, say, the airport, you would find huge ads where you expect the road signs to be. On your way North, after you cross Mahim, there are two small boards guiding you to turn left towards the airport and a pair of helpful cops who assist you in getting rid of the extra money you should not have been carrying anyway. They are placed there because they know people would take the wrong turn in the absence of signs.

In any other developed city of the world, billboards are just a few and certainly not there spoiling the view. But, in Mumbai...well, in a way, hoardings prevent you from the direct view of people doing what they ought to have been doing indoors. If Japan is the land of the Rising Sun, Mumbai is no different; at many many places it is the land of the rising bums after they have finished doing their job.

Why only Mumbai? You can drive anywhere in India and you can see we have ruined the view of most picturesque sites, lush green fields, and hills by erecting huge hoardings.

Ads on the TV? Anyone who has watched a movie on any of our movie channels will tell you that we have ten minutes ads after every ten minutes. Essentially these make no difference to your understanding of the plot. In most Hindi movies you know the ending even before the movie starts and you are there only to watch the rain-dance. However, most of your patience wears out when there are ads just before the long awaited ending.

You want to watch a cricket match? Well, these days they are able to put in up to seven ads between two overs. In the IPL matches they even give each team Strategic Time-out so that they can squeeze in another thirty ads. Listening to songs on music channels is another experience in catching up with the latest brands being sold. Just in case you are one of the rare watchers actually interested in a match or a song, it frustrates you to observe that whenever the ads are displayed the volume automatically goes up.

I guess there is one aspect in which the similarity between ads and mosquitoes ends and that is that - if you have seen ads on the TV about it – any number of sprays and coils are available in the market to keep the mosquitoes out; but, there is none to keep the ads out. Your ‘choice’ has already been made like those people in the villages of Bihar who find their votes have already been cast when they reach the polling booth after walking tens of miles.

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