A few thoughts I want to share today. I do not know where to begin. Okay, my glasses. Today, Sunday, was the first day I went to work wearing my new glasses. To my relief, or should I say disappointment, it didn't cause a stir at the office. Barring a couple of comments like how I now looked like a Bengali intellectual, there was no major eyebrow-raising. Partly, because I didn't wear them all the time (and I don't want to), and partly because I had forgotten the fact that my appearance doesn't really interest others. I am, however, suddenly interested in people who wear glasses. I now look at their frames closely and ask about their power -- things I was completely blind to in the 38 years of my life.
And after 38 years, arises a basic question. A man and a woman -- both of them wear glasses. Both of them are colleagues and they work on the 12th floor. One day, when they are all alone in the elevator, passion overpowers them and they decide to kiss right away, without wasting a moment. What happens then?
1. Do they swiftly remove their specs before locking their lips? If they do, then the kiss becomes somewhat planned and is no longer spontaneous, which mean 80% of the fun is lost. And if they don't remove their specs, then:
2. Do the specs collide with each other and stand the risk of breaking? Or,
3. Is there a way of kissing without making (bespectacled) eye contact?
I look forward to finding the answers sooner than later.
In my 38 years, I have seen women quickly removing their glasses and folding them up and keeping them at a safe distance as soon as the fire is kindled. In fact, the removal of the glasses if often a signal that the fire has been actually kindled. But there is a flip side to this too: there are times when she removes her glasses but the fire, for some reason, refuses to catch. Now that is a highly embarrassing situation, not only for the woman but also the man. In such cases, while the man keeps fumbling with the ignition button, there is only one thing you can see on the woman's specsless eyes: indignation.
Yesterday, Saturday, a friend of a friend of my wife came home. A truly rich guy, who recently bought two buildings on Usman Road so that he could set up his showroom in Chennai. Nice guy and all, and he offered to show us the property, barely 500 metres down the road. As he took us up the three floors of one of the buildings he had bought, explaining the hardships he is going face while turning it into a swanky showroom, I noticed a small bookshelf on the second floor. Mostly self-help books and some old issues of Reader's Digest. Still, I couldn't help pausing and looking through them. Gems are usually hidden in such neglected stacks.
"Whose books are these?" I asked my wife's friend's friend.
"It must be the previous owner's. Take whatever you want."
I picked up two volumes of J Krishnamurti's Comments On Living and the May 1987 issue of Reader's Digest. May 1987: I was just over 16 years old then, but the urge to become a journalist was burning inside me like a forest fire, thanks to the Bofors scandal. In less that six years I had realised my dream, and today, I've spent 16 years in the profession, wearing all sorts of hats -- from being a humble sub-editor to being a political reporter to being an editor who discovered travel-writing.
And now, going back to 1987, the only thing that struck me was the simplicity of those times! The advertisements -- which are reflection of the times -- only sought to seduce you gently, they didn't aggressively force products down your throats. So you had ads of Limca, Gold Spot and Campa Cola whose catch-lines merely told you how good it felt when you had any of these soft drinks -- but they effectively left the choice with you. 1987 was also the year when Indians still didn't seem to know if they should go for branded underwear, because the number of underwear ads outnumbered that of any product put together in that particular issue of Reader's Digest. In those ads, men's underwear was synonymous with machismo and the women's with softness, but the brand was same: VIP.
The strange part is: I don't even remember the brand of underwear I wore in 1987, even though I remember that I drank Limca and Thums Up and Gold Spot and showed off my Bata-made Power sneakers to my school mates. Those days, courtesy Imran Khan, it was fashionable that your undies should line your white trousers while you played cricket. But I just can't recall my brand of undies. But thanks to the 1987 issue of Reader's Digest, I was able to recall a bit of my adolescence.