This columnist once watched a 60-minute BBC TV documentary on the railways of Lahore simply because the remote control was on another chair.
Heartless people call this “laziness”, but I prefer “terminal indolence”, which sounds more medical.
In a bid to encourage this writer to be more active, colleagues pointed out that a noble, dramatic wave of self-reliance is sweeping the world at the moment.
It started with a video report from China a few days ago showing a woman out shopping for food. She paused for a moment and gave birth to a baby, which fell to the floor. She never even sat down. Onlookers in the city of Yunfu called an ambulance and paramedics but she waved them away and walked home, baby in one hand and shopping in the other.
Just imagine the conversation. Husband: “What did you get?” Wife: “Four carrots, a baby, and some bananas.” Husband: “Good, I like bananas.”
The wave of self-reliance spread to the US. On April 2, a car hit a woman, sending her flying. She picked herself up, refused an ambulance and drove herself to the hospital, the Tennessee press reported. On the same day, a man in Las Vegas was shot — but also drove himself to hospital, according to the local radio news.
This is a bit worrying, conjuring up a vision of US highways being filled with motorists zooming along while severely injured. “Oops, sorry for crashing into you, someone shot my head off so I can’t see anything.” “No problem, bud.”
Self-reliance was demonstrated in Southeast Asia at the same time too. An economy passenger on a Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong flight upgraded herself. The flight attendant sent her back, but she sneaked forwards three times. Eventually the passengers in the expensive seats shouted at her to go back. This seems unfair, since she was doing no harm to them besides damaging their elitism.
I told colleagues that these were trivial examples compared to the ultimate do-it-yourself tale. Jadav Payeng of Assam moved to a large sandbar in a river. He spent 30 years planting trees and eventually turned it into a new forest 1,360 acres in size. (An acre is about the size of a soccer pitch.) The forest was so successful that tigers and elephants now share it with him.
And possibly the worst do-it-yourself true story is that of Oscar Taylor of California. He performed a surgical operation on himself in 1909. He died and his family members didn’t even have a doctor to sue, so they missed an important US tradition.
When I got home, I discovered that my kids were watching a viral video about a dog named Drewbert who was playing “fetch” with himself. Owner Jialu Wong was busy so the dog threw his own ball and fetched it.
But going back to where this started, one of my kids told me that modern people no longer used TV remote controls. They changed channels by giving voice commands to their Alexa electronic assistants.
So basically, they’re agreeing with me: Reaching for the remote and pressing a button is just too much work, right?
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)