May. 20th, 2010 07:15 pm
marjorieinchina: (Default)
[personal profile] marjorieinchina
At the Jaipur Lit Fest, I went to a panel on the Internet and e-books and the future of print, which was mostly shouty and alarmist and which I eventually wandered away from to find another cup of chai, but while I was there Vikram Chandra said something intelligent along the lines of: "We speak so sentimentally of books as if they were a product of nature. But a printed book is a technology too."

I've been thinking something along the same lines about my glasses lately. For the last month or so my eyes have been unwilling to tolerate contact lenses. I put the lenses in one Tuesday, the week before going to Beijing, and wore them for about three hours and took them out again, and the next morning I woke up with such red, painful, light-sensitive eyes that I canceled a lunch appointment and drew the shades and spent the whole day in my darkened apartment. The whites of my eyes weren't properly white until two days later. It seems to be a problem with the lining of my eyelids, and I'll go see an ophthalmologist when I get back to the States, but in the meanwhile I'm wearing my glasses every day. As a consequence, I have become uncomfortably aware of how much I need my glasses and how they are a scientific instrument carved from some kind of high-tech non-shiny glass to suit exactly my eyes and if anything should happen to them, say if I fell down and they broke or one of the stems snapped off--something that has happened in the past--I would have to navigate a whole system of measurements and prescription in Chinese to get a new pair just to do my job or, really, anything else. And I just cavalierly wear them on my face all the time! There's something weird about this.

Two days ago, in a classroom before the period started, a girl told me, "You shouldn't wear glasses, you will be more beautiful." "Well, thanks for telling me I'm not so beautiful today," I said. "You're welcome," she said. I tried to explain that usually I wear contacts, but she didn't know this word and didn't want to pay attention while I explained it, preferring to ask her friend with a dictionary, who looked it up and told her it meant "eyes." Then she got irritated that I had used such a hard word, "contacts," instead of just saying "eyes," and I was hard pressed to make her believe they were not the same thing.

So I guess what I'm saying is, I think they need better bilingual dictionaries in this school.


marjorieinchina: (Default)

July 2010


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