Many a times, while interviewing the elderly Nepalese, I have had to refer to Gordon Square as ‘where the big screen/TV is’. This is when they realise that I am talking about Gordon Square. So to start off, the big screen has definitely become an attraction at Gordon Square and it is interesting to discover that some people only understand what I am talking about after mentioning the big screen. In the summer of 2012, the big screen did attract crowds for screenings, which in addition to the Olympics included screenings of opera and Wimbledon. To date, the big screen is used to show sports and the BBC news.
Two regular users of Gordon Square, whom I have interviewed, stated that the big screen plays a ‘big role’ to their leisure time. They have both witnessed the atmosphere created by a football or tennis match on the big screen and have agreed that having the big screen at Gordon Square makes their time spent there feel more joyful (like when viewing a game from a stadium) in contrast to the moments they spent there without it. It gives a feeling of being part of something bigger where one can join in the laughter, screaming, cheering and even booing with their friends and families. For some who may not have a TV at home, watching programs on the big screen can be a source of entertainment. During the Nepal Earthquake, I managed to ask some of the elderly Nepalese whether they watched news about the earthquake on the big screen. They said they did and it became apparent that they used Gordon Square as a space where they could share grief and their views on the earthquake. Hence, the presence of the big screen in Gordon Square seems to shape and bring noticeable, yet immeasurably subtle experiences to their lives.
However, the same interviewees had reservations about the optimal use of the big screen – that is, as one interviewee put it, there is little initiative put into the choice of programs shown on the big screen when big crowd gathering events are not on. It was suggested that so much ‘more’ could be shown like educational programmes for children. I have noticed that the volume increases and subsides as it pleases, which may hinder some from watching the big screen at all and even the watchers may find themselves losing interest. So to answer the question of whether having benches and a big screen at Gordon Square makes a difference – I would say yes, it does and this too mostly for the better. However, let it not escape our minds that this depends on what is being shown on the big screen. And, additionally, we do not know if it is possible for the public to be able to influence what is shown at the square.