An endangered class

We were sitting next to each other in a meeting. May I request you to picture a corporate meeting in a fancy hotel. Fattening food. Fumbling thoughts. Supposedly full minds. The conversations can be about the Sun. And the moon. Sometimes beyond too.

It is in one of those breaks, that I notice the pen in his pocket. Being a big sucker for fountain pens, I am curious. But before that, let me state the commonly known and do a super quick tracing back of the history of pens.

Many moons ago there was an era when the fountain pens beat the wind out of the humble quill to become the default writing instrument. What the humble quill upstaged to become the preferred writing instrument, is a matter of conjecture to me. I would request some education from readers.

In the name of ‘progress’ and such else came the ball point pen. A no mess ‘use and throw’ pen, which incidentally was banned in school for a large part of our growing up years. Ofcourse, no one threw away the pen. For that matter, in that time, no one threw away anything until they had put it to atleast five and a half different uses long after the main use that it was bought for was done. Which is a sidestory that we will sidestep for now.

For most parts of my growing years if I pictured one grand battle over which the world would come to an end, it was the battle between the Fountain Pens and the Ball point pens. Quite obviously, I was on the side of the ball point pens. The reasoning was simple : All teachers used fountain pens. And ball point pens were banned for students!

Many of you would empathise when I say, that I took to ball point pens with a relentless vengeance, when I took to working. So I thought the ball point pens had won that grand battle.

Little did I think that there would soon come a time when writing per se was at risk of being obliterated by the keyboard. And just as the keyboard was rising a flag of victory over what appeared to be a new frontier, tablets and touch screen is stretching it even further. How long the ‘touch screen’ would last is left to anybodys guess. Or a lazy swipe of the index finger.

Ah, pardon the detour. Getting back to the tea break, discarding propriety or whatever, I ask the gentleman, if I could see his pen. A trifle surprised, he hands it over. And says, ‘my dad gifted me this pen when I cleared my 8th standard exam’.

‘Eigth standard ?’

After some pronounced flexing of the non-existant math muscle in the brain, I figured that was 32 years back!

It was a Parker. It carried with it the distinct smell of several years of leaving imprints on notebooks, exam papers and many papers of significance. Not to forget empty artistic doodles in conferences perhaps.

Ofcourse, within it resided some fresh blue ink, that distinctly held the smell of school. Quite obviously opening the floodgates of my memory and grand vision of that time, that the world would come to war over the mighty pen.

I wonder how many kids of the present day world would grow to romance the fine art of writing with a fountain pen. Which is when the missus points out that writing in itself is at risk.

Which is true. Romantic lover letters, I am told, have been replaced by abbreviated text. ‘Yours in ever lasting love’ or something to that effect has become ‘Lv’ in the text message driven writing of the modern times.

Thank You has become TanQ or TY ! ‘Congratulations’ has become ‘Congo’. Happy Birthday is better written as ‘HBD’. Even the ‘Many many happy returns’ is elaborately written as ‘MMHR’ !

Will cursive writing still be taught in school or will using the index finger to lazily swipe on a glazed surface become the new and only norm?

I am not sure if it will happen anytime soon. Until then, lets celebrate the likes of the gentleman who preserves and writes with a pen that’s 32 years old. Just because a father gave it to him. For sailing through class eight !

Such folks are at a different class. An endangered class.

Whats with glasses ?

Picture of Kim Jong II from the web

It is time to change my glasses. Its been years. My glasses have seen all the sights that i have. From the plains of Madurai to the peaks and valleys of Mahabaleshwar. The chill of the Bangalore air and the seething summer heat of Delhi. The coasts of the Arabian Sea to the Bay Of Bengal. My glasses of seen it all. ( Other sights, tears, laughter, and insightful moments are not getting mentioned)). Somehow, sticking to geography seeks to override all else !

So, this discussion on the glasses was at the dinner table. This is a style statement. A friend said. Its a style accessory another cooed. It gives you a certain image…a certain personality, said a dear friend with glasses that were flown in from Kolkatta. Please don’t ask me why. I don’t know.

As the conversation rolled on, snide remarks on how i was going blind cropped up. And then, out of nowhere came a comment : ‘Reconsider glasses. Obama doesn’t wear one’.

That was the inflection point. And as the discussion on the dinner table raged on, my mind wandered to world leaders who wore glasses. And i couldn’t get many. And the list that was coming to my mind didn’t exactly swell my chest.

a. Kim Jong – II ( North Korea )
b. Hun Sen ( Cambodia )
c. Manmohan Singh ( India )
d. Robert Mugabe ( Zimbabwe )
e. Asif Ali Zardari ( Pakistan )
f. Dick Cheney ( Vice President of USA )

And of course Sarah Palin ( Attempted Vice President of USA )

There, am sure, and HOPE, that there are other heads with glasses on ! But this list somehow does get me hurtling towards discomfort. If some historian and an avid blogger with imagination and time at his hands were to do some mapping in the centuries to come, where would it leave me, i wonder !!

That leads me upto this door.

Do all world leaders have clear vision ? Can they see well ? Why dont people wear glasses ? Are you thinking that they perhaps have crystal clear vision ? For instance, can George Bush see ? His dad used to wear glasses. But he doesn’t. Hmm !

I wonder if we can fix the problems of the world by just administering the correct prescription for the eye to all our world leaders ! After all, vision is important !

There seems to be a whole lot of need. For good vision !

As for me, i would be trudging to the eye wear store soon. My problems are more plebeian. I just need to see clearly when i read…

A post gave me a whole deal of comfort. Its all going to be in the other persons mind i tell myself. ‘they both wear glasses. which one do i vote for?’ caught my attention!! Do Read it here.

So i trudge along to the eyewear store. Berating myself to stop making Kilimanjaros out of mud heaps.

And as i trudge along, i think of the others that wear glasses, in addition to that list above. Raj Udhav & Bal Thackery, Karunanidhi i think. I shake my head, as my confidence starts to slip. Again

I try a new trick to get my mind to give me some other name and some additional confidence too : ‘Think International’, i tell myself.

And then, my mind says :Donald Rumsfeld.

My purchase decision has been postponed for now.