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By Nickunj Malik - Mar 29,2017 - Last updated at Mar 29,2017
I belong to Punjab, a state in India where everyone loves to wear sunglasses. It is not that the sun shines too brightly there, though Punjabis do suffer from an extremely sunny disposition. We are so chatty and cheerful that we start becoming an annoyance to others, especially when we name our kids “Happy”. All of us have at least one sibling, cousin or friend who is named that.
Other than film stars and Arabs, I have hardly come across anyone who wears goggles as religiously as the Punjabis. Celebrities from the movie industry need to wear them to hide their identity, we all know that, just like the Arabs wear them to enhance theirs. But why Punjabis wear them continuously, remains a complete mystery.
Also, if you study this habit of ours, you will notice that we never push the sunglasses on top of our heads, to sort-of double up as hairband, like a lot of other folks do. However, irrespective of age or gender, our dark glasses are always perched perfectly on our noses, making sure that we view life through a rosy lens.
We are thoroughly smitten with this accessory, which is affectionately referred to as “kala chashma” in our local dialect that literally translates into “black glasses”. Bollywood has recently produced a new song that extols the virtues of the wearer with lyrics like “dark glasses suit fair faces”. Our lyricists are fast losing credibility, but sometimes they have to provide songs to suit the plot in a film — is the only probable explanation I can offer in their defence.
Despite the nonsensical words, this number has become such a hit with the masses that no dance party is complete, without it being played several times, during the course of an evening. While other people have to look for the sunglasses in their purses or jacket pockets, we Punjabis have to go through no such mad scramble when the song comes on. And that is because we are the only ones who are actually wearing “kala chashma” even while dancing.
In any airport in India, without searching for the boarding gate, one should confidently stride towards the area, where a maximum number of people sporting trendy sunglasses are found chatting in a group. With 100 per cent certainty, one will discover that all of them would be on the same flight, heading to some town or the other, in Punjab.
Even though I grew-up around such enthusiastically spectacled people, I took a long time to get acquainted with it, personally. For quite a while, to the amazement of my friends and family, I did not possess a single pair of sunglasses. If the sunshine was too blinding, I preferred to use a parasol, which shielded my head as well as my eyes and completely eradicated the need for extra protection.
But then I contracted conjunctivitis. Also called “pink eye” — a highly contagious infection where there is an inflammation of the outermost layer of the white part of the eye. With watery, red eyes I rushed to the hospital.
“Impossible, impossible,” the doctor muttered, reading my patient form.
“What?” I squeaked in panic.
“Your name sounds Punjabi,” he retorted.
“Yes I am from Punjab,” I confided.
“How did you get conjunctivitis?” he asked.
“Sorry?” I was confused.
“Punjabis wear sunglasses all the time,” he noted.
I nodded in response
“Follow your tribe. Kala chashma is the cure,” he prescribed.
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