At a first glance I thought it was some kind of a headset, with the funkier kind of headsets that are being manufactured these days I wasn’t surprised when I saw something of that kind. But a second closer glance made me realize that it wasn’t a headset, it had the shape of one, and it was plugged into the ears of a guy, but it wasn’t one. It is one of those things which don’t have a name, they don’t have a label, and they don’t have a brand. It is one of those freak products that men make and find a use for it later. It was some sort of an ear muff, an ear muff with an impoverished and ill-fitting look that would make a White Man say “Yes! this does seem like one that is manufactured in the third world nations!”. A big, large, clumsy looking ear muff which sits awkwardly in your ears and makes you look like Mickey Mouse, whose ears I feel may have been the “inspiration” for the inception of this product.
Now Chennai is not
Siberia, at no hour of the day. Yet I could see a smattering of people wearing this on the way to work, in the initial few days of its “launch” I could roughly see 4-5 people wearing it but as the days went by the rate increased quite alarmingly. I see them in trains, at train stations, in buses, at bus stops, on the streets, on jay walkers, on pedestrians. I see them on school going kids, college going youngsters, middle aged men, middle aged women, old men, old women, on almost every type of demography that is out there. I was shocked to see this perched prettily on the ears of a friend of mine, whom I considered to be quite sensible until then. “Thou too?” I asked, “What? Its quite cold here! Stop judging people because they use something that doesn’t appeal to your standards” She said. “It’s 10 am in the morning and you are working in an air conditioned office! Of all the places you can’t wear it here!” I said, “It’s supposed to protect your ear from the cold, no matter where you are” she said just incase I was dumb enough not to figure it out. I found it futile to argue with her further, I admitted my defeat, thanked her for the insight and walked away.
It comes in all shapes and sizes and colors too, polka dotted, tiger stripes, leopard spots, green beret type (just in case you are going for a war in a dense jungle and want to be camouflaged so that the enemy wouldn’t spot you). I would not have found it outrageous had Chennai been a cold place or even if there were bugs flying all around and you had high chance of a bug getting inside your ear, or your ears getting frozen due to frostbite. But Sultry Steaming Singara Chennai is not all that, the only temperature that Chennai knows are Hot Hotter and Hottest, and I cannot even fathom why someone in their right senses would buy something so ill-fitting, ridiculously looking, garishly seeming item which doesn’t even have a proper name for it (The Ear Condom is what I could think of) for their large heads.
Why is it that man has become so insecure about getting infected or diseased that he has started manufacturing products which we do not even have a use for?
Condoms: I agree are very very useful for a nation where Screwing is the favorite topic/pastime after Cricket and Cinema and Music (Don’t you try to deny it, we did not become a population of billion + just by talking about sex.)
Helmets: You definitely need one with the vehicles outnumbering the riders in our streets.
Sun Glasses/ Shades: To protect your vision from the big hard sun which also makes you look cooler and helps you check out good looking people without making you look like you are ogling at them.
And I am not even including all those facial creams, pastes, chemical matter which we apply on our faces to make us look pretty and wrinkle free.
But an Ear Condom/ Ear Muff! What are the chances of our ears getting damaged? They certainly don’t look like they could cover up our ear from an explosion, I would not mind if they looked good, but they look clumsy and they seem ridiculous.
Just like shoot first and ask questions later, I guess this is a case of manufacture first and find a use for it later. We are a nation of billion people and counting, and we are a huge market for every product imaginable. Out of a billion there could be a small but sufficient percentage of population that may find such products of their use. Which reminds me of a product launch competition in which I had taken part a couple of years back. The winner was a team who had come up with a product called “Musical Baby Diapers”, the purpose of this product was to let the parent know when to change the diapers with a musical tune, and no, it was not in the tune of a nursery rhyme, but it was of some popular Bollywood number (An A.R Rehman rendition to be more precise). So whenever the baby crapped, the diaper would start playing a tune to let you know that it needed changing. Now, would you find any use of a product such as that?
I do not oppose innovation or creative thinking, we need products that are a cut above the rest, but we have our Wants and our Needs mixed up. Every new product that comes into the market makes us want to try it, but is there a real need for buying it? There is a line in a movie which goes “Yahaan har minute ek bakra paida hota hai, aur har doosre minute do kasai paida hotein hai usse halaal karne ke liye”, the movie was a flop, but the line does seem quite right.