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The spectacle of spectacles

I have an axe to grind (yes! I know I always have an axe to grind!) Anyhow recently two comments came up, quite unrelated in terms of events, but very much linked thematically, that it made me stop and think. The first one happened earlier in the week, about Monday when I was part of a group lunch. Some banal comments were flying around, when one of my colleagues turned to me and said “You know, for someone who reads so much and is so academically oriented, you don’t wear glasses…right?”  I corrected him there and introduced him to a wonderful accessory called “contact lens”. That was the end of that and I dismissed the incident without much thought. Then towards the end of the week, another colleague who is also a friend, came back from a meeting with the new Director and said “Boy! He sure is bright! Superb analytics and all; of course he is bright, one can make that out at once, he wears those thick glasses.” That’s when I stopped and thought ‘What in the world is the correlation between spectacles and intelligence?

I know in the bygone era, before the invention of electric light and advanced publishing, students and academics pouring over the hand written or badly printed scripts in the candle light would often lose their vision or at least seriously damage their eyesight. But how does that translate to the present day – to judge a person’s academic calibre by the thickness of his/her glasses is so in adherence to the stereotype that it makes me barf!!!(I know that whenever I grind an axe, I also barf) Our films of course go out of their way to reinforce this image – the protagonist is a geek and therefore will wear specs, the moment he/she become cool, off go the specs!!!!! I mean what? I mean really what the hell is this? Even our literature adheres to such connotations – remember the novel Robert Langdon of the Da Vinci fame? He is a professor who wears glasses. Had he been a CIA agent, I wonder if Mr Brown would have made him wear glasses!!

I am sure, all of us if we seriously think back have enough examples that defy this stereotype. I have a bimbo at work that will make bimbo’s feel inferior in bimbohood. She wears these really fancy glasses because she is trying to pass as an intelligent creature. Just wearing big round glasses will not make her intelligent. On the other hand I have my sister and brother-in-law. My sister has double masters from Boston University and worked as an Art Historian and my brother-in-law has a Ph.D from MIT in Mathematics. Yup they are bright and definitely have an IQ score above the average, but guess what – THEY DO NOT WEAR SPECS!!! They do not even have reading glasses….go figure!! My Dad who is hitting 70 and for years have read and read and read and is possibly one of the brightest men around, also does not wear glasses. I can go on and on about this list, but I think you get the idea!!

So what is the correlation between intelligence and glasses? I mean in medieval era, it was considered to be a sign of physical weakness and not mental superiority to wear glasses!!

As a foot note, my trusted and sacred source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, informs me that these days there is ‘in” thing called “Geek cheek”. It apparently refers to a person who wears black horn rimmed glasses and is comfortable with technically complex accessories. Apparently the brigade leading this “Geek cheek” look includes Justin Timberlake and Myleene Klass. I think I rest my case – glasses+ Justin Timberlake ≠ intelligence!!!!

Bring on the Sunshine……

Ahem Ahem….So Thanks to the magnificent Lill and Jill, (awww I am still so touched…sob! sob!!Thank you Guys!) I have been nominated for the Sunshine Award. I would like to take these 15 seconds of fame and Thank my Father/Mother/dog/cat/neighbour/fellow students at my University from Slovakia and Turkmenistan…..No I have not really lost it (yet!)  and I  am not really doing this, so please do not drop your jaws or start reading another blog!!!

So per the Sunshine Award rules, here comes the detail –

  • Favourite Colour – Oh! Gosh! There are so many of them that I love – red, blue, aquamarine (I know its just another shade of blue, but it sounds nicer), pale yellow …let’s just say I am a colourful person (Yes! I know this is a really bad pun, but I was tempted!)
  • Favourite Animal – Oh! I am so old-fashioned here ….give me a doggie anyway!! I mean a doggie and not a dog; there are differences between the two – one is more of an impersonal creature and the common noun can often be used as an adjective….the doggie is a friend preferably a golden retriever type of friend who is always around to share your chicken and life…..I hate apartments cause you cannot bring up a doggie here.
  • Favourite Number – All even and never odds…don’t ask me; got something to do with childhood memories of times when we learnt HCF and LCM
  • Favourite Non Alcoholic Drink – You mean there is any other type of drink in this world? Er…water and tea!
  • Favourite Book – Oh! The list is long and only the brave can survive …here goes Pride and Prejudice and everything else written by Ms Austen, To kill a Mocking Bird, All Terry Pratchett, All Harry Potters, Everything written by Conn Iggulden, All works of William Dalrymple, Wild Swans, All works of John Steinbeck, All works of Orhan Pamuk, War and Peace, All works by Saki ….I will stop now that you have an idea!
  • My Passion – Let me start counting …reading, writing, cooking actually food, travelling, history, architecture, talking nineteen to a dozen, bugging my best friend when she is trying to watch a movie, laughing, dancing, theatre …I think I should stop!
  • Prefer giving or getting presents – Giving, I love giving surprise gifts, but my problem is always choosing the right gift for the right people. Love receiving food or book type gifts though!

Have we reached 10 yet? Does this list end?!!!!

  • Favourite Place – Mountains and more mountains…anywhere in the world
  • Favourite Day of the week – Friday; after I shut my office laptop and head for car parking…yay yay no work and only play for two days!
  • Favourite Flowers –  Not particularly flowery or planty…it’s a struggle to keep my Moneyplant alive but I do love Bougainvillea …reminds me of spring during my university years when there would be a riot of various colour of them and it would seem as if somebody had poured large vials of paints on the trees

Phew done!!!!

Finally the part I really like – I would like to highlight the following blogs for being brilliant, wonderful, funny, beautiful and generally enriching lives –

http://somanybooksblog.com

http://12novels.com

http://nonamesnofaces.wordpress.com

http://freepagenumbers.wordpress.com

http://classicconfusion.com/

http://tamarindandthyme.wordpress.com/

http://eggton.com

http://ayearofreadingtheworld.com

http://eagleeyededitor.wordpress.com

http://photobotos.com

Thank you all of you for inspiring me every day to laugh more, read more, write more and think more, especially from point of views contrary to my own!!

And here’s saving the best for the last – Thank you Lill and Jill for sharing your lives with us! You two make life a fun place to be in with all your roller coaster adventures and experiments! Discovering your site was one the best things and I think everyone should take a big slice out of your celebration of the joyous and downright funny takes on all the “moments” of each day!!  You gals are the best! Thank you for all those moments of sheer sitcom joy!!

The missing clue of relatives and social networking

I once believed that introduction to Facebook was one the most epoch-making events in my life. I was finally in touch with friends who were once so dear to me but had lost track off. I could now be in touch with them and other people easily without drafting a mail or calling…posting on the wall was enough!! The world was perfect; I had reached an equilibrium between my social side that wanted to keep in touch and my lazy side that had issues with making too much of an effort, thanks to Social Networking. “Like” was the key to liking life…..life was perfect! But in the words of Yogi Berra “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

And then came the relatives…….

Now on any normal day, most people would concede that relatives are one of the more irritating fractions of their lives, considering the fact that most of the time we are also relatives to someone and might be part of the irritating fractions. (Self-Introspection is good and helps us develop into…whatever it is Dr Phil thinks we should develop into!) Anyway since the relatives’ piece is always dicey, I stay away as much as possible, especially considering they are my relatives. Now I know you are all raising your eyebrows and nodding your heads and are ready to contest with the wildest story about the most asinine relation you have. However I win hands down…you will just have to believe me (not like you have a choice considering I own the site) and take it from me literally that when I say I have a real bad case of relatives, I do!!

After haunting me through my childhood and young adult years, they suddenly in masses decided to invade my cyberspace. I was getting request from that cousin and this aunt and that uncle……the works. Woebegone if I decided to refuse (not that I could refuse, so I pended all unpleasant friend requests), there would be calls from the East to my mother who is in North, who would then call me in the West and ask me why was I being rude to the FAMILY. (Yup! She is a bit of a cookie herself; but years with my father have made her saner; though she breaks out now and then!) There would be no way to explain to her that I was not rude and I had not refused and really, I needed some space! The second stage of the ordeal, after becoming friends with me would be to get curious about me. I live more than 2800 km from them and thank powers greater than me for this miracle; if they can go crazy on a virtual social networking site, then imagine what they can do in circumstances where I am physically present. Every photograph is peered into with comments like “Who is that guy?” or “What are you drinking?” or better yet “You are clubbing again!!!” This is absolutely nothing compared to the phone calls my mother would get from the FAMILY about how these days I am partying everyday (cause somebody tagged me on some clubbing pictures) or the Guy in the photograph does not look good enough to belong to the FAMILY (For Christ sake! He is a friend and is already married/engaged/gay!) My mother would with her streak of cookieness call me and well you know what happens when mothers and daughter’s collide. It’s apocalypse times 4! Then comes the last and joyous part of embarrassing me in public “You have put on so much of weight! This is your father’s family genes taking over!” (Duh! I have always been what I would like to term as “Pleasantly plump” and this fact is not an earth shattering revelation for them to proclaim with such suprise and at least I am “pleasant”) Or better yet “Your sister looks much better!” I love my sister and she is gorgeous! But why do you have to  compare and contrast on a public page for the world too see?  My favourite of course is any photo with a restaurant ambience would without fail merit a comment in the lines of “Eating again?! Living live King size are we not! Have you seen the mirror lately?”

Now I defy you to come up with more nastier and embarrassing examples.

Net result is that I have really really given up social networking. There is indeed a silver lining to everything and enlightenment came as I discovered that as I move away from FB and such sites –

  1. I am mailing a lot more again and reading mails and receiving them is a pleasure which I had forgotten
  2. I have started calling people over the phone a lot more and the human touch is always special
  3. I opened an account anonymously on another site and it’s fun to be free of all social imposed restrictions and standards
  4. I do not have to spend a considerable time of life refusing My Calender and Farmville and Petville request
  5. Finally the FAMILY has no idea where or what am I up to and they are forced to call my mother who can only divulge what she knows and I make sure she knows only on a need to know basis

I still have an official Facebook page, which I still log in for the sake of keeping in touch with people who matter and generally check out the madness around me, but I really kick of my shoes and pull out all the stops in mails and the “Other” page of my life!!

The absolutely magnificent and completely unforcasted holiday……

So I have not blogged for a while! I am so aware of this shortcoming and feel extremely guilty about it. A combination of reasons including work pressure, emotional turmoil and ill health have contributed in keeping me away from penning away my idiosyncratic thoughts. The same reasons also contributed towards making my weekend near perfect!

No I am not crazy and am not making contradictory statements. And Yes I have recovered from my illness so my brains are not damaged and I am not talking rubbish!!! One must cultivate patience…let me explain – the week had been extremely stressful (Yes! We all have stressful weeks; let me add that mine was more stressful than usual) and I just could not bring myself to be creative or intelligent or even tenuously funny. Every single cell of my brain rebelled from associating with anything remotely related to intelligence. After staring at the blank word document for 2 hrs I gave up – a smart creature always makes best use of his/her resources or in my case rather lack of resources. I am smart, if nothing else, so I gave up on trying to finish writing Book 1 of my novel and instead spent the whole weekend reading!!! So I gave myself a reading holiday!!Yipee!!!

There is nothing more joyous or more blissful about an unexpected holiday – you know when you were in school and it rained/snowed heavily and school got cancelled? It especially becomes great if you had horrid assignment or test that day. Or at work, you are dreading this Business Review with the VP and then you realise that it ain’t happening because, the VP hurt himself playing tennis???? My weekend was on the same line – I was expected to finish book 1, but I just could not make myself type a single word. I gave up and started reading – I read through 5 books and Boy! Am I glad I did?

A wise man once told me that when you are really really down, wear bright colours, cook up something great and read something really funny. So I wore red PJs (yes! I like red) and about the food see below and finally when it came to books, who can make me laugh more than Mr Terry Pratchet? I recommend Mr Pratchet whenever you are sad, ill, unhappy or happy, contended and having fun – he is a man for all seasons. I loved and I mean loved as in 40 Bold Font size, his Good Omens which he wrote in partnership with Neil Gaiman. It’s a brilliant take on Omen (The Movie) and the battle between good and evil without being didactic. After being restored to my natural sense of absurdity, joy and unbound optimism, I was ready to take on anything in the world, so I read George Orwell’s Burmese Days. It’s not a book to make you jump with joy; but it is brilliant take on the British colonial occupation and double standards that are imposed by the society that leads a man away from his destiny and ultimate happiness. It’s not a fun book, but worth a read for the richness of the language and the vivid portrayal of a country under imperial rule and subjected to a desperate fate, because of the infighting of her own people. I followed this up by re-reading Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop. What can I say about this book that has not already been said before? His take on sensational journalism is laugh out loud funny with a good dose of rolling on the floor! William Boot and his travails in getting a scoop for the Daily Beast in the civil war torn Ishmalia will bring tears to your eyes (because you are laughing so hard; not crying! I do read such books but do not discuss them in public). I then changed the variety and read through John Norwich’s A Short History of Byzantium. I love history and read it as closely as fiction and have a minor obsession about the Eastern Roman Empire, which had been condemned for poverty, obscenity etc. but produced some of the most magnificent works of art and in whose absence, the west would have completely lost its tracts of Roman and Greek works. Lord Norwich writes in a light, but scholarly way making the bygone era come alive with vivid characters and a hue of colours. Finally my 5th book, which I began reading and am still reading at the recommendation of my flat mate is Erich Maria Remarque’s The Three Comrades. I am still reading it so I will withhold my opinion, but just to give all of you a brief glimpse the story traces the lives and friendships of three friends in 1930’s Germany, where they have to live and make choices in a society that they never wanted to be a part off.

Since the books were so awesome, I ensured that the food I ate was also awesome. If I was going to be decadent I was going to be decadent all the way – Pizza’s with extra cheese, Pasta, Devilled Eggs and Fried Chicken. (Yup, it was an orgy of food and books)

The net result however is magnificent. I have got back my bounce back; my cherry optimism floweth unbound and I can laugh at myself and look at things at a 360* reverse angle again. Since the efficacy of this medication was so good for my bruised and battered soul, I wanted to share with all my blogosphere friends and proclaim it out loud – when your heart is not in it! Don’t do it….Just let it is and instead do something that you want to do and things will fall into place! It’s ok to take some time off once in a while and recharge yourself!  Take a reading/painting/cooking/walking/manicure holiday and you will see the difference when you come back to tackle your original bidding.

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