My friend, a highly accomplished artist and sought-after illustrator, keeps asking me from time to time some seemingly innocuous questions. Once, in an unguarded moment, he asked me, 'Who invented the safety pin?' I was taken aback. I was nonplussed. I had to concede that I did not know. I knew who invented the aero plane. I knew who invented the rocket. I knew who invented the CAT scan that helps doctors delve deep into our insides and make correct diagnosis of our ailments. I knew how and when and who had brought to light these eminently useful nonetheless epic instruments. Yet, I was not aware of the inventor of the simple household item of day-to-day use. It was perhaps the fact that the safety pin is such a non-descript commonplace item that we do not bother to know anything more about it. We take it for granted.
But that question had riled me. I could not simply brush it away. On the contrary, I started making a list of such items, procedures, concepts that have become an integral part of our life and yet we do not know the history of its coming into being. Making up that list was not a linear venture, I soon realised; it was much like our chain of thought. It takes all kinds of twists and turns and we end up far away from the initial strain that had jogged our brains.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Art & Culture (744)
Emperor & Queen (484)
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