Are you a serial addict? A serial addict is defined as one who can never take his or her eyes off the TV Screen when a serial is in progress no matter what is happening around him or her. From here on, I shall refer to a serial addict in the feminine for convenience and in consideration of the fact that the male of the species is a minority in this group. My American business associate was here recently and we were taking a morning walk on a lovely Sunday at the Elliots Beach. Among the morning walkers were the usual bunch of figure conscious ladies. My friend took a deep look at every one of them and became very pensive. I was intrigued by the silence of this generally garrulous man. First I thought maybe he was struck by the beauty of our buxom women but then the look on his face, which was more of dismay than of ecstasy, told a different story. He seemed deeply engrossed in some thoughts and I did not wish to be intrusively inquisitive about it. At long last, he broke his silence to enquire why was it that all Indian women wore the telltale marks of a bad marriage. I was aghast at this unexpected question on a lovely morning. ‘Bad marriage?’ I exclaimed and asked him whatever gave him such an idea. He immediately apologized for his question but justified it by pointing out to the swollen eyes and disheveled hair. Striking the note of Sherlock Holmes talking to Watson, he asked me if they were not indicative of nightlong crying. No one cried at night unless her marriage was on the rock according to him. I laughed out aloud and complimented him for his innovative reasoning skills but explained to him that the swollen eyes and disheveled hair were a common sight in this part of the world. They were not telltale signs of marriages on the rock as he had diagnosed but the result of viewing tearjerkers on the TV every night. I explained to him that the soaps that were telecast for nearly four hours every night ran for several months making the ladies cry buckets night after night. In the mornings, as they made their morning cuppa, they mulled over the sad events of the previous night and cried some more. All this crying took its toll I pointed out to him. He stunned me by saying that there was a lot more soap induced crying in the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region><st1lace>US</st1lace></st1:country-region> than in <st1:country-region><st1lace>India</st1lace></st1:country-region> and according to him it was the maximum in <st1lace>Central Africa</st1lace>. But according to him, nowhere else the after effects of serial induced crying were so visible as in <st1:country-region><st1lace>India</st1lace></st1:country-region>. I have heard of some amazing tidbits about the total involvement of some women with these serials. Some of them perform archanas at <st1:City><st1lace>Temple</st1lace></st1:City> for the safe revival of Abhi of Kolangal. That the Doctor has said that Abhi is virtually brain-dead has shattered the avid fans of this serial. Whenever that bad guy Aadhi comes on screen, the eyes of the viewers become as read as those of Vijaykanth when he is about to thrash a hundred hooligans single-handedly! They identify themselves totally with the serial and here is an instance supporting my view. When a woman saw the son of Arasi competing in a dance competition, a programme totally unconnected with the serial Arasi, commented, “I don’t know how this guy has the heart to come and dance here when his mother is going through such horrid times!” The producer of a serial called ‘ Lakshmi” is very smart. He doesn’t want his serial to have any disastrous effect on his viewers and consequently face any legal consequences. So while running the title at the end of every episode, he shows all his characters in a jolly mood and total camaraderie while participating in the shooting of that episode. It does ease our mental and emotional strain considerably! But all said and done, I felt very proud on hearing what my foreigner friend told me about the Indian women. Are you asking me why? Is it not a matter of pride that the compassion of the Indian women is brought out in such vivid colors by the soaps?