Archive for reality show


Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , on April 24, 2012 by javedbabar

“Do you think that we’ll go on the trip too?” said Zoe. “I was just wondering.”

“I usually do,” said Smuel, “because I’m the driver.”

“I know that,” she said. “You know what I mean. The millionaire’s offer, does it include us?” The Millionaire entrepreneur who had visited Open Hearts seniors daycare centre had caused a stir. He had already made a $25,000 donation, and offered to fund the furnishing of the hidden basement, and had now said that he would fund the seniors’ annual trip. The details had yet to be formally announced, but there was much excitement.

“Let’s ask Mr Amin,” said Smuel. “He’s bound to know.”

Mr Amin was in his office trying to use his desktop. Despite having once been Northern India’s Minister of Culture, the Centre’s manager had never mastered computers. He’d once had an office full of clerical staff, so why bother? But today he needed to research holiday logistics – how to get there, where to stay, what to see, what to eat, and in particular for seniors: first aid, mobility, access, tea shop and toilet locations. “Yes, yes, come in,” he said, turning his back on his computer with relief. “Do you need me for something? Oh, the annual trip? Yes Mr. Daniel has offered us an exciting opportunity. He has offered $10,000 each, to a maximum of thirty clients, to undertake the holiday of a lifetime.”

“Ten thousand each!” Zoe and Smuel said together. “What for?”

“As I said, for the holiday of a lifetime. However he has specified conditions. People must choose either a one year independent adventure, or a one week luxury trip.” Zoe tried to interrupt, but he continued. “Yes, yes, a one week luxury trip with first class flights, five-star cruise, and champagne dinners. The independent adventure involves overland travel and backpacking in Africa and Asia. Everybody at the Centre must vote and the activity with the most votes wins.”

“Why is he doing this?” said Smuel. Daniel had seemed like a nice guy when he’d visited last month, but what was his real agenda? “No one just gives away money like that to a bunch of unknown old folks. Why wouldn’t he use that cash to go on holiday himself?”

Mr Amin said, “Ah, maybe you don’t know how Mr. Daniel makes his money. He runs a TV production company. This is his latest reality project. He will film the adventures for broadcast. So you see it is an exchange really, and in my view win-win. What do you think about that?”

“It sounds pretty good to me,” said Smuel. Zoe nodded in agreement. “But will we be going too?”

“I thought you may wish to know that. Smuel you usually do, and Zoe you could if you wanted to but have never asked. My view is that you are known to the clients, they like and trust you, and you will surely be helpful to them whichever holiday they choose. I can’t guarantee it, but hope that you will also be considered. Certainly if we don’t have thirty volunteers, you will go. Which holiday would you prefer, Smuel?”

Smuel chose the one year rough adventure, saying, “It’s a chance to make the most of life.” Zoe however chose the one week luxury trip, saying, “I’d like to do it in style.”

Mr. Amin said, “Well, here at Open Hearts we run one of the world’s few genuine democracies. We will let the people decide.”

Both Smuel and Zoe began canvassing support immediately. It seemed that there was a straight male-female split. Albert, James and their buddies wanted to be warriors aged sixty, seventy, even eighty-plus, shouldering backpacks, travelling on smelly buses and on crowded trains, sharing their rooms with bedbugs and strangers, and visiting places they’d never imagined like Egypt and Ethiopia. Even if they died en route they’d be proud of their last moments. Irene, Gemma, and the girls wished to be elegant and pampered. They wanted china plates and silver cutlery, Egyptian cotton sheets, rooms with views, and young men in uniforms saluting them. They didn’t want their holiday to kill them as they wanted to remember it for the rest of their lives.

The vote was scheduled for Friday but on Thursday Mr Amin received a call from Daniel’s PA. Daniel was very sorry, she said, but the production deal had fallen through and funding for the holiday was no longer possible. Oh well, thought Mr Amin, maybe there was no one year trip, and no one week trip either, but they could still manage a one day trip. He returned to his computer. Hunting and pecking at keys he managed to type in “Picnic spots near Lucerne.”

Mid-Life Crisis

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , on April 20, 2012 by javedbabar

The handsome man walked into the lounge. Everybody looked up and even those looking up already looked higher. He wore a shiny blue shirt and khaki trousers, seeming both casual and smart. His golden hair didn’t seem real at first, so bright was its shine. “He should be sheriff here,” said ex-cowboy Albert.

This filmic scene was ruined by the presence of a film crew. Their big cameras and furry microphones were ugly, and cracks showing above their low-slung jeans were unseemly. Mr. Amin, the manager of Open Hearts seniors daycare centre felt like buying them belts. “Is everything ok?” he asked the director.

“Yes thank you,” she said. “Everybody did well in the rehearsal. We’ll be ready for the shoot soon.”

Mr. Amin was proud of everyone at the centre today – his “clients”. All were washed and brushed and dressed smartly. He said to the director, “Who is this guy, really?” Everybody knew of course, but they wanted confirmation.

“As we told you, Mr. Amin, Daniel is having a mid-life crisis and seeking direction for his life. He is looking at a range of charitable organizations with whom to engage in voluntary work.”

“But what will he do for a real job?” said Mr. Amin. “I mean to earn money? Or doesn’t he need to do that?”

The director cocked an eyebrow. “Mr. Amin, you know that we’re not going there. I’ve told you the official story. Whether or not you believe it is up to you.”

Well at least he’d tried. A few minutes later the cameras were ready to roll. “And action!” called the director.

Albert ran across the frame pretending to ride a horse. “How’s that?” he said.

“Cut!” shouted the director, and gave him the look.

“Sorry,” he said, and sat down again.

They tried again. “And action!”

Daniel approached Mr. Amin and extended a hand. He said, “Thank you so much for letting me visit your centre. I hope to gain a better understanding of your work.”

“You are most welcome,” said Mr.Amin. Why were they shooting from behind, he wondered? There must be a cinematic reason for it. “We are delighted to have you here. Please think of yourself as a family member every day that you visit. This is a place of Open Hearts.”

“Okay, cut!” Called the director. “Very good, Mr. Amin. Perfect. You’re a pro. Who’s next?” She checked her call sheet. “Gemma?”

Gemma was unrecognizable today, her usual sack dress replaced by a blue skirt-suit. She wore a pearl necklace and earrings, and more amazingly – she also wore a smile. She usually sat in her corner, knitting miserably and casting mean remarks. Today she was the model of decorum, and said to Daniel on film, “This is a really lovely place.”

Clients looked at each other in shock – was she really saying that? “I look forward to coming here each morning. I was a math teacher for thirty years so am used to institutions. But this place feels like home.” Her smile was sickening.

“Okay, cut!” called the director. “Thank you Gemma. Now it’s… Irene.”

Irene was her usual sweet, kind self. She told Daniel how much she loved the centre. The food was fresh, staff were friendly, and there was stimulating company, all things she’d said on the official questionnaire. “Okay, cut!” called the director. “Nice work, Irene. Let’s take thirty minutes for lunch. Is this a good time for that, Mr. Amin?”

“Yes yes, lunch will be served in a moment. Please be seated at this table.” The director took a seat. She was pleased with the way the shoot was going. It was formulaic – nice people saying nice things – but that was the nature of these programmes.

Mr. Amin went into the kitchen and asked the cook Zoe to dish up. The film crew heard her clattering plates, and then a big slap and clang indicated that she’d dropped a substantial part of the meal. There was cursing and shouting. Mr. Amin realized that she had not really gotten over the food complaints on the recent questionnaire. She was even grumpier now that she’d spilled the lamb stew. Mr. Amin called for assistance. Daniel ran right over to the kitchen and helped clean up, as the camera crew did hand-held filming. Mr. Amin was embarrassed and said to the director, “I’m very sorry, but lunch will be delayed. Shall we continue filming now, and eat later?”

“Not to worry. Let’s skip lunch today. Who’s next… Zoe?”

“I don’t think that Zoe is ready. How about someone else?”

The director indicated ex-cowboy Albert. Oh no, thought Mr. Amin.

The director called, “And action!”

“Very pleased to meet you,” said Daniel, extending a hand.

“You’re saying that now,” said Albert. “I bet you won’t be saying that later!” Albert made fun of Daniel’s “girl’s hands and sissy blonde hair”. He asked him if he’d ever done a real day’s work in his life, and reminded him that “nobody ever drowned in his own sweat.” He asked him for investment advice, and then said it was bullshit, because “the quickest way to double your money is to fold it over, and put it back in your pocket.” He asked about motivation during his mid-life crisis. Daniel told him about affirmations and meditation. Albert said that was also bullshit, and if he was “feeling down”, then he should “saddle up.” He gave him some good advice for life, “Don’t squat with your spurs on.” He also said that he felt sorry for Daniel because “Life is hard, but it’s harder when you’re stupid.”

Mr. Amin saw that Daniel was crying. Damn that Albert! This guy was having a mid-life crisis, and he’d upset him on film.  Damn that Zoe too, ruining lunch! But then he remembered that Daniel wasn’t having a crisis. He was a millionaire entrepreneur wanting to give something back to the community, seeking worthy causes to fund. Mr. Amin saw that Daniel’s tears were accompanied by laughter. He was having a blast here.

The next week Open Hearts seniors daycare centre received a $25,000 donation.