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HindustanTimes Sat,27 Dec 2014

The spectacle of spectacles

Vivek Atray, Hindustan Times   October 18, 2013
First Published: 10:34 IST(18/10/2013) | Last Updated: 10:36 IST(18/10/2013)

For those who crossed the age of 40 some years ago, the onset of the era of spectacles is inevitable. Once the eyes tell us that we cannot read the fine print any more without holding the sheet of paper a little distance away, our lives change rather inexorably.

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Thus, to the list of mandatory accessories that normally form part of one's repertoire -- the handkerchief, wallet, wristwatch, pen and of course the ubiquitous mobile phone -- a pair of spectacles is suddenly to be added. This new-for-us gadget forces itself to be a part of our armoury by compulsion. Things have now come to such a pass that we can do without most of the aforementioned necessities at times, but just cannot do without those glasses.

Hence, a new relationship has to be formed by the 40-somethings. It has to be fostered and cultivated. Indeed, a pair of spectacles can become just like one's wife -- almost always there, always needed, never apart.

When I started with them, I felt rather awkward wearing the cumbersome pair in public. At meetings, I didn't really know what to do with them. Bifocals are not for me, so a certain way had to be developed to look at people across the table i.e. over the glasses.

Some stylish old time movie heroes had perfected the art of using spectacles over the years. They would take them off with élan and then put them on again with panache! The legendary Ashok Kumar comes to mind. Dada Moni was a real perfectionist and the manner in which he played with his spectacles (or even with his cigarette) in those black and white films was class personified.

These devices also provide one with quite a learning experience. One starts empathising with people who've had to wear them for decades, and one bonds easily with recent converts. In fact, there are those who've taken to wearing them with aplomb, but I'm not one of them.

The biggest fear that I have these days is the likelihood of misplacing the pair. The mind has not accepted them yet, as integrally as it has the mobile phone, and thus while one is instinctively careful with the phone, spectacles are often left behind hither and yon. Many a Good Samaritan has been responsible already for retrieving and returning them.

Another star from the film world is said to own several pairs. He is learnt to have placed one in each room of the house, one in each car, and in each washroom at home and office. There's not much chance of feeling grossly un-bespectacled when you possess that many pairs!

Virender Sehwag wore a pair for the T-20 matches a few months ago, and looked like an unlikely professor. The problem was that he even batted more like a professor than a cricketer! Only when he shed his specs did he show glimpses of his belligerent self.

Clearly, some people are not meant to join the club of the bespectacled. Their personalities just
do not go with any sort of eye accessory. But for most of us, the spectacle of spectacles looms large when the 40s approach.

The writer can be reached at vivek.atray@gmail.com

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