It was in the summer of 1988 that my wife got the idea to keep up with ‘The Joneses’ and acquire a satellite dish. As is customary in my family, an immediate meeting was convened to endorse this strategically important decision, wherein members of my household held forth on the pros and cons of the purchase. The outcome of the meeting was a foregone conclusion, as there is no way that the single agenda coming from my better half can ever be defeated.

A team of three young men descended on my house in response to a phone call and for the next two hours, the otherwise placid environment of my home was rent by hammering sounds, continuous running up and down the stairs, and finally an interesting dialogue between the three ‘dish experts’ (dispersed between the lawn, the television lounge and the roof) that rotated between “thora ooper, thora neechay, aur right, thora left, rokke, han hun theek hai.”

That evening, the worst fears of my mother (the lone voice against the dish) were justified, when the children glued themselves to the television and overlooked their homework. This forced me and my wife to design and then enforce timings for our three youngsters to do their school work and watch their favourite cartoons.

The school work issue resolved; we settled down to a routine dictated by the infernal dish. Evenings that were once a scene of family fun became drab, with the ladies’ dropping everything in anticipation of ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ and ‘Santa Barbara’, while the children sulked in dark corners because these soaps clashed with ‘Bugs Bunny’.

The tradition of having breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room was replaced by consumption of these three meals, while sitting in front of the ‘idiot box’ in the television lounge. To bring home my point, I would urge my readers to try directing a spoonful of milk and cereal from the bowl to your mouth with your eyes and mind focused on the small screen, where the ‘heroine has just caught her spouse selling the new season’s showstopper to the evil competitor’. Those that can manage to get this spoonful unerringly into their mouths without getting the stuff on their clothes or, more acutely, in their nose are indeed remarkably gifted individuals.

Then one day, nature took matters into her hands and unleashed a nasty windstorm upon the city. We were taking our afternoon tea when the sky darkened and gale force winds began buffeting the house. Suddenly, the picture on our ‘telly’ disappeared to be replaced by noise. I battled my way across the roof only to discover that our dish had disappeared. A search party consisting of myself and our domestic help ran the gauntlet and began searching for the errant piece of equipment in ever widening circles, to discover it lying in a nearby vacant lot with no apparent damage.

Many years went by and the advent of cable relegated the dish into oblivion. Then one day, I discovered the once white parabola concealed behind a high stack of suitcases in the storeroom. I knew that its usage as a satellite signal receptacle was out of the question, so I sat down to devise new ways to utilise it and subsequently publish them as a guide for those of my readers faced with similar situations.

The first point that one should be clear about when reutilising a dish for ‘other purposes’, is whether to use the contraption right side up or upside down. Now this is a tricky proposition, since the right side or the wrong side is entirely dependent on your preference of the convex or the concave side of the dish as the right side. If you indicate a leaning for the concave shape, then you may use the structure as a planter, a fountain part or as a garden pool for breeding ‘Chinese Golden Carp’.

If you are a fan of the convex shape, then the best use of the derelict dish is to convert it into a garden fixture mounted on four vertical poles to provide you a convenient shelter from sudden cloud bursts. My particular dish is currently serving this purpose effectively with its fibreglass surface completely concealed in a dense growth of honeysuckle.

A friend has devised a novel way of using his dish, by customising a circular cushion for his family of cats to curl up in. I wouldn’t be surprised if people with large egos and dishes to match, take a cue and produce a modern piece of furniture that takes the world by rage. Whatever be the end use, the satellite dish is one of the most versatile of inventions and will always rank high in my resource list for ‘things to make and do’.

The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. His forte is the study of History.