For My Eyes Only

For my eyes only

We’ve been old mates, glasses and I! And when I was visited upon by the first installment of friendship, fancy dealerships were not in vogue. The optometrist, who pronounced my fate in terms of twin minus fours, also scribbled the name of a ‘reliable’ outlet which I suspect was partly owned by him. We found it tucked in the middle of a lane that opened on dingy streets at both ends. The counter top swarmed with an army of ‘frames’, the likes of which had adorned the countenances of Subhash Chandra Bose and M. K. Gandhi. A corner of the showcase housed humongous sunglasses endorsed by the latest Bollywood heartthrobs. However, this was a No-Entry zone for students, the myopic and the less affluent.  I being a heady cocktail of all the three was quickly decorated by a pair, lustily decided upon by the salesman and my guardian.  The very next day I stared at the sharpened outlines of the world from behind a pair of spectacles which sat askew on my nose.  Sadly, no traces of that spectacular image remain under the sun.

Over the course of next few years, the nondescript optician continued to join my ears to my nose with textbook plastic sticks and circles. Then sometime in the middle of 1980s, Kapil Dev and Kris Srikkanth started rewriting the rulebooks. Michael Jackson unleashed an army of ghouls with his era-defining thrillers.  Arnold Schwarzenegger travelled back in time to wipe out the leftovers of traditions. And I donned a pair of sunglasses over my eyes powered by semisoft contact lenses.

With the prescription glasses no more a necessity, I launched an impassioned hunt for the trendiest eyewear.  Copycat Ray Ban Wayfarers and Aviators were the order of the day.  To the horror of my parents, I quickly collected a number of them.  Soon, however, I started getting plagued by red shot eyes and pounding headaches. It was not hard to pin down the culprits. I had to abandon my whim to a rising cacophony of admonitions emanating both from my family and school.

I chanced upon a pair of mercury-quoted glasses of nameless origin, circa 1992. It seemed to have nearly flawless glass that never caused discomfort. The gear stuck with me for several years in what would be the longest stint I can remember and almost became a signature before I left it behind in a stuffy hotel of Jaipur.

As we rolled into Y2K, true Ray Bans started surfacing in the second rung cities of India. I became the brief owner of a pair of Predator

Men in Black

sunglasses, immortalized by Men in Black, which I lost in a minor biking skirmish. Pinched by the stiff price I’d paid, I stayed away from the expensive brand for a considerable time till a few years back, while driving down from Shirdi under a scorching sun, I discovered to my delight that I could use the Ray Ban as a filter that instantly cooled the appearance of the world to my camcorder.  Needless to say, I remain a fan of quality optics and a cool pair of Ray Bans is always towards the top of my wishlist along with books, photographic accessories and smartphones.


  1. Great!! I had similar story to tell when I ended up writing a fictional account of having visions. In past couple of years, apart from prescription sunglasses, I also have acquired prescription swimming goggles 🙂

    1. Ha! I do remember that. This one though was inspired by some competition somewhere on the same topic. However, I wrote this for the eyes such as yours, only. I’ve had enough of contests for the poor life of me!

  2. Thank you for your comments on the blog. You know I remember my elder brother getting all thrilled about his Raybans, like in the first picture above. It was the 60’s and they weren’t available easily .

    I got my first prescription glasses at the ripe age of 21. Photosensitives were just in, and I thought those were cool. Its no longer so . They’ve turned me off sunglasses for good. I did try contacts at one point in the early 70’s. But lost many , so I gave up. Very recently I had the experience of actually losing one of my spectacle lenses during Divali , on a crowded main street of Thane, and the sudden blur made me think I was having a stroke. Ah ! That just gave me an idea for a post :-))

    1. I know that sudden blur. It just makes me withdraw further within. Your panic spurred a half-smile which turned into a grin with you smelling an idea for a new post.

  3. You had mentioned this part in your guest post for me, but this was a full length treat 🙂 I must confess that I had started using sunglasses very early because of my photosensitive eyes. So what did I do before that? Shielded them with my hand, wore a cap, and squinted 😀 But Raybans as a filter for the camcorder? That must be a first even for the company 🙂

  4. i still remember that creaky kapoorthala night at lucknow when you underwent that eye dilated test. i drove your scooter (though you never knew, at that time i was very bad at riding).
    what about shalini nigam who also donned your love like a flabbergasted owl?

    1. Yes,Sir! I was the Steve Wonder of the night who had just found the bridge over troubled waters, even if it wobbled! And now that you remind me of that soul-sucking vampire who used to turn white at our sight!

  5. Quite a story ,Umashankar! With so many more designer brands now in market it is not easy to choose, unless one has a fixation 🙂

  6. I have myopia and astigmatism and now have reading glasses as well, and have now progressed to “progressive” lenses. Since I refuse to wear contact lenses, I I can’t wear Raybans or for that matter any type of “sunglasses”. 😦

  7. Rayyan (my son) has myopia. We did not know about this until one day I asked him to read a something written on a poster and he replied I was making fun as there were only lines and no words there. He loves sun glasses and is thinking about going for contact lenses now.

    1. Farida, contact lenses are natural simulation of eyes, if well-fitted. High maintenance needed by them is a downside though. I’ve worn them for 27 years now.

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