Every year in summer two things happen. One I start getting this overwhelming feeling that I need to do something new with my life (a feeling I reckon reminiscent of moving on to newer class during 16 years of schooling) and two I desperately want to do something about this mop of curls on my head.
While the first urge is soon taken care of by taking on a new hobby (that lasts exactly a week) or try to revive an old one. But the second one is more complicated. I am one of those chosen few who is blessed with tremendously curly hair. And styling it (actually just managing it) has been HUGE problem for decades now.
Till the age of seven things were pretty straightforward. Dad used to take me to the neighbourhood barber and get my hair cut along with his. Everyone was happy. But the trouble started when the barber one day hinted to dad saying "saar that is a daughter you have. It is not nice to bring young girls here" Till then it hadn't occurred to anyone at home that this could be a problem. And so I started going with my Amma to the "beauty parlours" I never enjoyed the trips. The women there asked too many questions - "how much should I cut? Do you want the new Meenakshi Seshadri look? You've got curly hair Madhuri Dixit's hair do will suit you better" (no I didn’t look like Madhuri or Meenakshi just that they wanted a guinea pig for new hairstyles my hair makes every hairstylists hand itch for some action) I missed my old barber! Meanwhile Amma was endlessly harassed by dad saying she didn't get a good cut for his precious little daughter.
This went on for a few years. Then I thought why not grow my hair to put an end to beauty parlour trips. The experiment lasted a year. Why you ask? Well my hair was so curly that it took about 1/4 litre of coconut oil to keep it in place and that would also last only a day. The second day I would be running around literally wild haired much to my Amma's embarrassment. And so we came up with a solution just cut it really short. So no more experiments till 10th standard. Peace was restored.
But what's life without a bit of action? Since I had really short hair (shorter than the boys in my class at times) Most people mistook me for a boy (it didn't really help that feminine assets weren't really growing on me to make the distinction.) Once on a holiday I was going to some family friends place with Amma. Those days we traveled by BTS (now BMTC) bus and as I was trying to get into the bus from the front door the conductor held my collar and said “O hero why are coming in from the ladies side go back” (In Bangalore the men and women had (have?) separate entrances hence the action.) Amma had to come to my rescue saying “no no its my daughter.” Conductor got majorly embarrassed and apologised saying “how should I know she’s wearing pants and has such short hair.” For the rest of the journey the co-passengers were discussing this new trend of short hair among women. Not mention Amma was struggling against the urge to disown me!
Another incident happened at the temple in Dharmasthala. And this time it was dad’s turn. On our annual visit to the temple we were in the long queue and some how I was ahead of my family. And this pujari walks up to me and says “You are not allowed wear shirts inside the temple.” (For the uninitiated in many of the temples men are not allowed to wear shirts inside the temple). My heart skipped a beat and only managed to say “Eh.” Just then dad came running and shouted “that’s my daughter are you blind?” Dad was so upset that he never ever let me cut my hair again. He made me promise that I will keep my hair long enough to cover my neck so that nobody will think I am a boy J
I found all this only amusing and never embarrassing. A sentiment not shared by dad though. And thus began the saga of controlling my wild hair for the next decade; which I will write about in my next post.