Wear Are We Going? — Quotidian — 011

(Transcript of video originally posted 11 Jan 2021)

Namaste!

Yesterday, I showed you a shoe! And I told you that I would be telling you something about it later! It has the letter N emblazoned on it, as you can see. It stands for “New Balance”. Let us dig deeper about it, today.

In the year 1820.. It is 2020 now.. 1920… 1820…! This man was born in 1820. He is famous for one very important story. What was he wearing when he went to his friend’s house to attend a party, and he was ejected by the security guard there because he wasn’t dressed for the occasion.

They often say in Tamil, “Aal Paadhi, Aadai Paadhi” — Half is the person, but the other half is what they are wearing..! And, this man quips, okay, you were wanting to respect the dress, weren’t you? Here you go! And he pours the coffee on to his dress, offers the bread to his trousers, for all the food is for the dress after all, yes? — So goes the story. Wrong priorities.. That is what this famous educationist was mocking at.

If you take Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, this is how he dressed himself up in the 70s. Fully decked up! But, if you track the evolution of the man through the years, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 8, 9, 2011 — he passed away in 2011.. and on his last appearance on stage just before he died, he was wearing the same turtleneck jacket, faded jeans, and New Balance shoes. So, what’s so special about this attire?

Well, he had visited Japan once. And, he had met a desginer by name “Isse Miyake”. He is the designer who designed the uniform for Sony Corporation. Steve pitched the idea to him — Design a uniform for me too, I don’t want to wear anything else! After his death, when Walter Isaacson surveyed his home, they found his wardrobe filled with the SAME DRESS, enough to last him a lifetime, even if Steve had lived much longer than he did.

In the movie “Jurassic Park”… you see a scene from the Jurassic Park movie on the left, and on the right, you see a scene from The Lost world (Jurassic Park Part 2), even though most of the actors have changed between the movies, Ian Malcolm, the scientist, the one who researches about Chaos Theory, Jeff Goldblum is the actor, see how he is wearing a black dress across both movies… He has a continuity of sorts, across two movies that came in a gap of three years… 94 and 97..

If you want to understand a little bit more about this, you need to dive into the book! Written by Michael Crichton. Ellie, the palaeontologist looking up at the dinosaurs…

Ellie asks Ian a question. Is it not a little warm for black?

And, he responds: “No, as a matter of fact, black is an excellent color for heat. If you remember black-body radiation, black is actually best in heat. Efficient radiation.”

He also says: “In any case, I wear only two colours, black and gray. These colours are appropriate for any occasion. Whether I go for a condolence or for a party. No problem. They go well together, should I mistakenly put on a pair of gray socks with my black trousers.”

But she asks: “But don’t you find it boring to wear only two colors?”

To which he shoots back: “Not at all. I find it liberating. I believe my life has value, and I don’t want to waste it thinking about clothing. I don’t want to think about what I will wear in the morning. Truly, can you imagine anything more boring than fashion?”

And, as a coup de grace, he spits out this: “In the information society, nobody has the time to think. We expected to banish paper… But, we actually seem to have banished thought!”

It was a really revelatory moment when I read this passage in the book. Don’t mistakenly think this book is about dinosaurs. There are many philosophical gems hidden inside.

This is why I really like the concept of the uniform in children. Because, it even hides unnecessary bits of info about their economic background. In fact, that is why I like it even more what is happening today.

The classes we conduct at Zoho Schools these days, students appear in video calls. Like this. You can’t tell really, how tall they are, whether they even had a bath or not, how plump or lean they are, what background, nothing! We don’t care about anything! We only look at your intellect. We focus on the message. So, the only thing you need to focus on, today, is the message! The message called “Focusing on the message”. What you shouldn’t focus on is this little thing here, which is… what I am wearing here.

Alright. Thank you! Namaste!

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