In the old days, you needed talent to do something. Take for example a mundane tasks such as watching TV.
When we were in the Middle East, during the early days, there were no 24 hour channels broadcasting the latest desi soaps into our homes. All channels were Arabic, started at noon, and showed camel racing for the better part of the day. There was one channel, Channel 33, broadcast from a neighboring country, that showed a Hindi movie every Thursday night (the weekend night there).
Oh, how we would all wait for that movie. By the way, disregard complaints of adults that nowadays Hindi movies have gone too Western and show scantily-clad women in provocative poses. The 80s films all had a dance in the rain with the heroine in a white semi-transparent sari, 1 mandatory titillating rape scene followed by an obligatory maa-ka-doodh-piya-to-bahar-aja scene. In other words, family viewing.
But watching the channel used to be an art - and our family was the expert in that. We had an antenna for catching that elusive channel. Improvisations, such as twisted chicken wire, were added to it to 'boost the signal'. Thursdays our home would revert to something like this with dad calling out instructions:
"Ok you, go there, and twist the wire at a 45 degree angle."
"Alright, now sit at that position, OK? Don't move, and you will rotate with your siblings on every song."
Periodically a tap was needed into the antennae to achieve a clear signal. You had to tap it properly, at the right place with the right force otherwise you would miss the climax of the movie. Weather forecasts came into play, if it was a rainy day a metallic cloth hanger would be added to the wire to amplify the already enhanced signal.
Then came Zee TV. Our Arab landlord decided he too wanted to catch the latest Salman Khan video so we got Zee TV. And life was never the same again. Flip on the TV, the channel was there. All our skills of catching Channel 33 - gone!
Then there was of course the Camera Man Uncle. This uncle used to be seen at weddings, usually by himself, yet he was the most sought-after uncle. He had a huge black camera slung from his shoulders. Every now and then, some overdressed aunty with lots of make up or some young twenty-something girl with lots of jewelery and giggling uncontrollably would approach him and ask him to take a picture of their group of similarly giggling friends. Uncle would arise from his slumber, pretend to think about it for a minute, and then grunt a disinterested 'yes'.
He would then ask the ladies to pose. And scold them because the first picture would always be spoiled by someone. And the ladies, fearful of being on his blacklist, would do their best to oblige his strange requests, such as "You, come in front. You! to the side. And bhabi, you! to the centre please."
And then of course the girls (or ladies) would bug him for days after until he got to developing the prints. And they would be given, again with a remonstration of why they are not good subjects for pictures and when, back in the day when he was in Bombay, he could shoot Sri Devi and why she was a perfect model.
Nowadays, this uncle has been emasculated by the digital camera. Even my kid brother has one!
"Hey, take our picture, please." [At least he said 'please']
All of a sudden, as you are at a wedding wondering how to bypass the food line, when a camera with numbers such as Zikon 23.5 OPS23/22 is thrust into your hands. You take the picture. Criticism rather than thanks follows.
"Oh man, my eyes are closed. You didn't even say 1-2-3! You just went 1-2-click! Who DOES that? Here, take it again!"
And then, some other kid interrupts, "Oh don't worry. I have Photoshop x.z It has a program for handling bad pictures. We just have to correct the lighting co efficiency by a factor of 0.45, and increase the RGB value of the picture, with slight focus on increasing the R part." And off they go.
Sigh! The 80s.