YouTube? So do I

candid confessions

YouTube? So do I

Let me get one thing straight. I am an incorrigible home entertainment buff. My CD and DVD collection is approaching the 1,000 mark, not to mention audio and video tapes, the hardware for which are now museum pieces. Record shops around the world have been my irresistible stomping grounds — the staff at the HMV store in Oxford Street, London, look upon me as they would a long lost brother.

I would pick up these discs on a sudden impulse, and they would remain unopened for months on end. I liked the look and feel of them, in a tactile sort of way. Rather like opening a brand new book and smelling the freshly printed paper. It was like a pathological disease, this expensive disc-acquiring habit, burning huge holes in my pockets.

Somehow, I had to get rid of this unaffordable, space-consuming pastime. I agonised over the potential withdrawal symptoms. I worried about cold turkey, laying awake in the dead of night. When I did manage to get some sleep, I would dream of empty CD racks, wrenched from their wall moorings, doing a shimmy in mid air. At which point I would wake up in a cold sweat. This simply had to stop.

Stop, it did. Space constraint was one reason. YouTube was the other. The amount of material contained in this channel is, to say the least, staggering. Anything you can think of, even beyond the realms of the imagination, is to be found in this bottomless treasure trove. As a die hard music buff, I am spoilt beyond words, for choice. Pop, Folk, Rock, Jazz, Classical — Indian and Western, Hollywood, Broadway — there is no genre uncovered.

Every artiste in every category, current stars as well as past masters, find a haven here. Then there’s sport. Cricket, tennis, football, olympics, golf, boxing. From Bradman to Tendulkar, Larwood to Lillee, World Cup Highlights, Laver, Rosewall, Borg, Connors, McEnroe, Federer and Nadal. Ali, Frazier, Foreman. Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt.

And what about films? Press a few keys and you are in the intimate company of Olivier, Gielgud, Burton, O’Toole, Brando, Pacino, DeNiro, Monroe, Bardot et al. Every conceivable form of entertainment available to you, literally at the end of your finger tips, in the cosy comfort of your home. No rushing off to the theatre, buying tickets, standing in line, being frisked by security, struggling to find your seat armed with popcorn and Coke, being forced to watch dreary commercials, and having to rush out to answer an emergency call on your mobile.

Here I pause to catch my breath. What appears, at first glance, to be a Pandora’s box of entertainment goodies, all neatly packaged and sorted, ready for my unlimited viewing delectation, also brings with it its own set of problems. For one thing, the sheer excess of material that is ‘out there’ is in itself a bit of a quandary. You sit in front of your PC, click on YouTube for some well-deserved entertainment. This is where the trouble starts.

What shall I surf this evening? M S Subbulakshmi’s UN concert in 1966? Frolicking Cocker Spaniel puppies? New York Philharmonic? Bob Dylan? George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh? The best bits from Seinfeld? It’s a nightmare.

You sit in front of your computer screen, afflicted by rigor mortis. You are filled with regret that your recreational interests are so amorphous. But that was never in your control. Your environment, early childhood, school, teens, college and constantly evolving tastes, took care of that. As if all this were not enough, cable operators offer you the option to record programmes from your set top box. So you record indiscriminately. Before you know it, you have saved more than 25 feature films. When are you going to sit and watch these?

This existential dilemma drove me to do some quick arithmetic. I sat down with my calculator, factored in the number of years I have to live, assuming normal life expectancy, number of hours per day that I expect to spend at home, with time left over for leisure, and I arrive at the startling conclusion that I will not be able to indulge my passion to the extent of even 20 per cent of the potential I have stored. All my wonderful material, destined to waste its sweetness in the desert air.

In the final analysis, I felt my best course of action was to ensure that this wealth of material should not be left to blush unseen, as and when I shed my mortal coil. In my last will and testament, these nuggets of pleasant diversion have been meticulously left to various nephews and nieces who, one hopes, will appreciate and enjoy their value. I have added an important codicil. Should there be an afterlife, and I return to this blessed earth, I want the bloody things back!

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