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Living With Classes

By Maliha Bassam

FOR those of you who have not been blessed with the eagle's eyesight, a visit to the eye doctor is, in all probability, an experience you are familiar with. Eye doctors and I go back a long time. I would be celebrating the completion of a decade of wearing glasses next year. Those of us who have been wearing glasses for that long a time or longer know that though the society has been kind enough to not categorise us as outcasts, there are some unintentional bias that we are subjected to throughout our period of short or long sightedness.

1. Social Discrimination: The word "glasses" immediately conjure the picture of nerds in our heads. For some very unfair reason, most pictorial references to dorks and geeks show the subject wearing big, thick and black glasses. This discrimination has been existing for ages and still exists, much to my annoyance. Sure, glasses are also symbols of brilliance, like in the case of Dilton in Archies or in the case of Reese Witherspoon trying to "Harvard herself up" by switching to catty black frames in Legally Blonde. But most of the time, in many books, movies, music videos, it is observed that the mousy, helpless, friendless kid that everyone picks on is myopic while the popular and "accepted" group consists of people who have no eye problems.

2. Fashion Deprivation #1: People with glasses do not get to enjoy the fashionable luxury of sunglasses. You can get yourself photo-sun lenses but then be prepared to look like a racoon in all your field-trip pictures. While sunglasses call to the rescue of many of my friends while they are out on sunny afternoons, us Glassesists (henceforth, this term shall be used to imply what it is most likely to imply; do I have to go through the "people who wear glasses" again?) cannot shield themselves from the sun's UV rays with shades. So big deal Rayban, Gucci and Versace, have a great summer collection no gain for you if you happen to wear glasses.

3. The "Eat vegetables" lecture: If you are new to the world of us Glassesists, be prepared for hearing the "eat vegetables" lecture at the dinner table, from everyone, starting from your khala, fupu, fupa, chacha, chachi, baba, ma, mami, mama (you get the picture, right?). Like anyone cares that your short sightedness may be genetic; that the reason why you wear glasses today in this era where the fashionables call the shots is because some prehistoric great aunt of yours refused to eat carrots in the Stone Age. Expecting sympathy? Well, don't. You wear glasses because you didn't eat vegetables. Henceforth, everyone's aim in life will to feed you a herbivorous diet to punish you for your sin.

4. The "Too much TV" lecture: They are always dying to say it. Everywhere you go you'll find them dying to let the world know that you overeat your Televisionic Nutrients (Note: These are first-class vitamins essential for the healthy physical and mental growth of a child. Give your child a regular dosage.) When you get your glasses, however, they have a valid excuse of saying those words even more. They will grin a malicious grin and their mocking eyes will say, "I told you so." So brace yourself to hear the "it's because you watch too much TV" record. I mean, brace yourself to hear it 20 times more than before.

5. Fashion Deprivation #2: Though it applies for only 50% of the Glassesists population, that's still a lot. Yes, this one's suffered mainly by the females (I say mainly and not all because I do not mean to offend our masculine Dhaliwood males. They too might suffer this if they have to take up glasses). If you have eyes like Aishwarya Rai or Cameron D. (if you have eyes like Cameron Diaz, stay away from me. I might have to accidentally scrounge your eyes out and exchange them with mine), once again, bad news for you, girl. No matter how pretty one's eyes are, some of the prettiness is reduced when the eyes are behind those plastic lenses. And if you are not a blue/green/grey/hazel-eyed beauty but you like prettying your eyes up with the best eye make-up in town, all the Nina Riccis and Maybellines of the world can't do much for you. Take it from someone who's been there and done that. Eye make-up barely has an effect on your face if you have glasses. Even if it does, you can only expect to spellbind some Prince Charming who's within a six-inch radius. Now, if that happens to you, congratulations but most people will miss out on those saucer-sized peepers of yours.

6. The Athleteyetis: If you are an athlete (or a wannabe athlete, for that matter), and all of a sudden have been cursed with glasses, you are gonna face some problems here. Glasses usually aren't too sports-friendly. So while playing basketball, football, volleyball, handball, or any game that involves flying objects, unless you want to get glass shards into your eye, you must take off your specs. This is a hassle, since you have to leave your precious glasses in the custody of some friends, who might not be too big on responsibility. If you don't have a friend who can temporarily adopt your babies (yeah, the glasses need sitters just like the little tykes do), you are faced with another problem. Worse still, you may be really "blind" without your glasses and then you might have to kiss your athletic stardom (ahem!) goodbye. Without glasses, you will be passing the ball to some player who does not belong to your team. This will be inevitably followed by a couple of shiners from your teammates (and mind you, without glasses there's nothing to protect your eyes from their knuckles).

7. The Losing the Glasses Crisis: If you yet have not undergone this emergency at any one (or more) point(s) of your life as a Glassesist, I, along with all the people in this world who wear glasses, disown you as a fellow member/sufferer/friend. A recent study conducted by a group of very hard-working, intelligent and observant group (they choose to remain anonymous) has shown that glasses are on top of the "10 Things You Are Most Likely to Lose Once Everyday" list (Don't tell me you haven't heard about that list. I mean, honestly!). This is especially true in the case of people who have started wearing glasses only recently. Meticulous research has shown that these people tend to misplace their glasses 73.69% of the times. Even veterans like myself often have our glasses do the disappearing trick on us. Like when you wake up in the morning and you can't find your glasses, or when you take them off to wash your face and can't locate them. The search for the glasses delays us, doing little for our punctuality.

7. Environmental Hazards: During the rainy season, a Glassesist may acutely realize the dilemma of wearing glasses. As fat droplets of rain splatter on your lenses, your vision is blurred and you are faced with the decision of whether you should take them off or keep them on. If you decide to keep them on, then you'll be concentrating too much to see through the water on your lenses to realize that that mushy, gooey thing you just stepped on was the excrement of some bovine creature. If you decide to take them off, then you might run the risk of falling into a manhole while crossing the street. Either way, you leave yourself vulnerable to life-threatening perils.

8. The Foggy Glasses Distraction: If you are fortunate enough to enjoy the air conditioner of your car, then you are probably familiar with getting your glasses foggy the moment you step out. Personally, this is the most irritating thing that can happen. It's worse if your hands are full of other stuff, because then you have no choice of taking your specs off but rather you have to cautiously make your way, bearing with the fogged glasses. This phenomenon, besides being ultra-annoying, can put you to embarrassing situations as well. Often there are incidents when people have greeted me while my glasses were still taking all the time in the world to un-fog themselves. I stared at, what I hoped (wish/pray) were their faces and greeted them back. My apologies to anyone I have inadvertently offended while doing this.

9. The Visit to the Eye-doctor: Ophthalmologists (God, I took three brave attempts to spell that word myself, then I just gave up and took the aid of the trusty Spell Check!) are usually nice creatures. I have seen a couple of them myself and discovered that they are mild, harmless people who like to listen to music. However, the waiting period in the waiting room (where else?) for the time of your appointment can get excruciatingly boring. Also, sometimes, during your regular check-ups, they make you place your chin in that weird, white, plastic machine that blow-dries your eye. I hate that machine: it sends out air punches to your eye at intervals and it is one thing I am positively terrified of.

10. Underwater Swimming Deprivation: The underwater swimming gear they'll provide you when you are vacationing in the Maldives does not include powered goggles. So, while your other family members may enjoy the full pleasure of such an activity, your acquirement of pleasure will be sadly restricted. All the beautiful fish, corals, shells, etc. will only appear in half of their beauty in your eyes. Better stick to Discovery Channel for the entertainment.

These are only a few of the dilemmas of people who wear glasses. There are many more, of course, some of which are much more severe. Glasses do, to a certain extent, shape our lifestyles. They put limitations in certain areas. Contact lenses, laser surgery, and other methods are always available as alternate options, but for those, you need money or a pollution-free environment or guts (none of which you are likely to have in Dhaka. Oops!). For most of us, glasses are it, there's no "or". However, once you wear glasses for a while, you'll see that they are not that bad. They become a part of you almost (and people begin to tell you that you look "weird" without your glasses. Whatever!). They become an integral part of your look, your clothing and your identity. Not to forget, the relief that washes over you when you relocate your glasses after hours of migraine inducing glasses-less-ness is heaven itself. They make you look intellectual (really? you? intellectual?). Glasses are like your buddies, annoying but comforting, you might hate them at times, but you can't do without them.




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