Monday, March 29, 2010

Lalu Chalisa... The case of the Hairstyle.

When I first got the mundan done, and everyone was all praises for me, What Bravado !! I only kept saying it’s all for GOD. GOD is kind. And he has been giving me everything I ever wanted. I kept saying nothing Brave about it !! But yesterday was the first time I felt, YES, one needs to be BRAVE to be able to do this. I walked into EscoBar last night in my perfectly confident style. I walked passed the Bar. Stepped onto the Patio outside, located a table and sat myself down. I was thoroughly enjoying my Cinnamon Ice tea when I heard a GAY man and 2 incredibly ridiculously slutty looking women talking about my hairstyle ( and no I am not saying gay and slutty because of what I am about to say – I had made my opinion at first glance). And for as hard as one tries, they cannot help but overhear certain pieces of conversation – and the subject of their discussion is IF I LOOK LIKE LALU PRASAD YADAV or not !!

A little something I’d like to tell you about going bald and then waiting for your hair to grow back. You never imagined that your hair would go through stages. At least I didn’t ! I was expecting my bald hair to turn into Sushmita style volume overnight ! It doesn’t happen so always !!

Fact 1 : Every person who sees you, will want to tell you who you look like !

Fact 2 : Does your bald head feel itchy ? is the next question.

Fact 3 : They will suggest some HAIR OIL they swear by !

Fact 4 : The Oil in my head will always tickle their fickle brain – and will ask me – Is that sweat ?

Fact 5 : Every time you wake up you wish it has grown by a few cms at least !

Fact 6 : There will be at least 1 day where you will wake up not remembering you got a mundan done and you will scare yourself

Fact 7 : (this applies to only women) you will wonder how you are going to deal with your long hair – because you are getting used to jumping in and out of shower in 5 mins flat

Fact 8 : When the summer breeze doesn’t ruffle your hair and make it oily, and you see girls tying a nasty looking BUN in their head with pencils, chopsticks and other pointy objects you feel you are lucky there is NO FUSS

Fact 9 : You miss getting dressed when you see your previously over worked HAIR IRON lying lonely there on your dresser, waiting for it to be plugged in and transform you !

Fact 10 : You hate that 4 weeks into your mundan, you get poky straight hair and any amount of pushing it back and combing it sideways doesn’t make them settle down and someone at a really Hip Bar calls you LALU PRASAD YADAV ki daughter… !!!

p.s. Thank god they did say I look like his SON.. !!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Julie , Julia and Me !

I was gravely disappointed this Oscar Season. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t seen Hurt Locker nor have I seen Sundra Bullock’s performance for which she won the Academy Award !! But I was anxiously waiting for Meryl Streep to win this award. Julie and Julia – the movie in many ways has changed my life. For one, I find solace in Julia Child’s character. Much of her zest and enthusiasm to live life – rather love life, to love her husband, to prove useful, to find happiness in whatever situation one is put in.. these are things I see myself doing on a day to day basis. The movie Julie and Julia is around 2 different lives, connected with one book and one blog.

Meryl Streep stars as Julia Child, a determined American chef who spent some of her most exciting years in Paris, where she attended cooking school and started an ambitious cookbook while her beloved husband Paul (a phenomenal Stanley Tucci) worked as an exhibits officer with the U.S. Information Agency.The second story the film focuses on is that of Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a New York writer whose boring cubicle job and passion for cooking eventually inspire her to start a blog documenting how she uses Julia Child’s cookbook to try all of her 524 recipes during a period of 365 days.

The movie, blog and book run beautifully the parallelism of life in 2 different time generations. In many ways, I see myself critiquing cooking ( somehow I don’t think I can ever be a good cook or rather I don’t want to be a good cook ) and blogging ( definitely I’ll attempt to achieve excellence in this field) and living a lovely life ( something I’m pretty good at already )with my partner to be. On many occasions I find myself thinking, maybe I won’t be able to write now. Inspiration sometimes runs out. And each time when a new idea crops up, I wonder what tomorrow has in store for me.

When life gets busy your love interests for other things take a back seat. And that’s when you know what you love the most, cause you miss it the most ! And then you make attempts to getting back to it. When I feel this way, I feel like watching this movie. It’s about passion. Julie Powell’s life of New Yorker is very much similar to my life in Mumbai. Crowded with so many things ! And yet she finds her right way. When people talk about striking a balance, the movie shows how she stuck her balance. All my life I thought I loved reading, but I just realized I love Writing, and I miss it the most.

But there is a whole irony of the situation – Success comes at a price .. The price of becoming Anti-social at times. She literally ran home after work, planned days in advance what is to be cooked, carefully planned the ingredients in such a way that there would be no left overs or an overly cluttered fridge. How to reduce clutter from your life is also an art, which in many ways I don’t know how to. I have memorabilia from the vaguest relationships, places and people I have met.

People find me, my love for things very intense. Something most people can’t digest. To be frank I can’t digest what they cannot digest. So yet again I drew inspiration from this movie – Do what you love, love what you do. Julia, despite being rejected from a professional culinary skills course and being in the middle of so many Men, stuck to what she has always wanted to do.

Julie, after having sulked for a couple of days when her boyfriend leaves her, gets back to her blogging – and that got her out of her misery. It’s when you change yourself completely for someone else and don’t remember what you were in the first place that you realize it was not worth it ! I have been in that situation a couple of years ago. And I said to myself, Never again !! And Life has been a happy one. I found myself throwing away one piece of paper the other day, a very dear memory for a couple of months now. But I just realized at this very moment, while typing this line, how bad I felt after doing that. I don’t have to change me. I don’t care if people die of Indigestion !

One movie, so many facets ! Julie Julia and Me.. !

Monday, March 8, 2010

Returning the gift

So, I did it. Took the plunge. Had an early start yesterday 7th March, 2010. The details even though ONLY 24 hours have passed are vaguely familiar. I went through the routine. After making small talk at the breakfast table, reading Mumbai Mirror with my green tea and then cold coffee, and summoning the barber to the house, I thought I’d go bathe myself. I didn’t want to shampoo and condition it for one last time, but I had Googled the previous day that the process was simpler if you did.

So I stood staring at myself in the bathroom mirror. I took one long last hard look at it. “I have LONG HAIR”, I said to myself. It’s going to take 9 – 10 months on a realistic side for it to grow half as long as it is right now. I wasn’t scared at any point in time. Only RELIEF ! Relief, that after so many days of thinking about it, the day had finally come – and that too all of a sudden. Sudden was good. I had an adrenaline rush.. as though the Vodka had just hit the head. Should I get drunk ? Or will I be able to handle it ? Of course I’ll be able to handle it. It’s hardly going to make a difference, I said to myself.

I blast the music on my phone to top levels – something I never do !! I’m not a music person – I guess I can safely say this today without you thinking I am weird. All weird things at one go is digestable. I’ll leave you to wonder what is more weird, me shaving my head off, or me not being a music person .. LOL. I un-dressed myself. Started the shower. The luke warm water seeped slowly through my thick and jet black hair. I ran my hand through my hair, parting it slowly so that the water trickles down to the bare head. Gradually my hair became wet. Everything about washing my hair is going to change now ! Will my bare skin on the head be able to bear this temperature water. I had to experience the firsts of everything now !!

I took a little more shampoo that I usually do.. I gathered up a lather with the black blob of liquid on my hand. It took 2 washes for it completely feel it clean. A quick conditioner routine left my hair looking slick. I used my favorite strawberry douche to clean up as quickly as possible. The strawberry is very soothing. Reminds me of …*!@... doesn’t matter to you at the moment. I jump out of the shower. I semi-dry my hair. There was a knock on the door. My mother said the barber had come. I smiled. I looked at myself one last time – even though I had in the beginning. Last of lasts was allowed today.

I came out. The friendly smile of the barber greeted me. I knew I was in good hands instantaneously. My friend Ami was there, For moral support even though I was sure I could do this on my own. She asked me one last time, Are you sure ??? Well, she had asked me a million last times in the last 24 hours anyway. I smiled. She knew I was sure.

My mother had set up my room. Papers on the floor, the chair of the perfect height. I sat on the throne. Hair cutting had never attracted so many people – I usually go on my own. I don’t like the fuss others create in a saloon over my hair. Everyone gathered around me. I said a silent prayer … I don’t quite remember that point in time when the prayer ended and the cold blade touched my skin for the first time. I began hearing the scrounge scrounge scrounge noise my crispy cold hair was making as strands after strands fell on my shoulder and then on the ground … Photographs were being taken. Ami was taking a video – should I put it on YouTube? was my thought ! Another weird thing about me – I have never been on YouTube, I have never downloaded songs, videos and series etc !!

By the time I recovered from this thought half my head was bald. Today, I wasn’t facing any mirror.. I had decided I will look at it only after it is all done… !! I posed for pictures half way. I think at this point in time the barber was thinking about his next appointment. But he waited it out patiently while everyone stood there giving their takes. Didi was giving her take on the colour of my bald head. Rishi, my younger brother was already making plans on how he is going to smack it once it is done.

We re-started the process. This time the blade moved faster… And soon it was all going to be done… should I take an off tomorrow ? What will my factory workers think ? Certainly my bald head is going to turn some heads. It’s going to be alright, the next voice in my head said. Deandra Sores, Shabana Azmi, Mira Nair, Lisa Ray… and now DISHA DOSHI !!

I chuckled and before I could recover and dive deeper into this thought everyone screamed. OMG !! My mother shrieked – Diu( as she fondly calls me)..” look at the amount of hair on the floor” !! My sister said, Dia( as she fondly calls me)” you look hot !”. My brother for the first time admitted he is scared of me. Ami said that I look hot. Dad just stood there and smiled. My mother ran into the kitchen and got the vermilion paste and made a swastika on my head. She put a red tikka on my forehead. The deal was done ! I was Officially Bald.

I peeped to my left to get the first view of my bald head. I flashed my image on the mirror… okay.. I look better than I had imagined. I moved away. I started laughing uncontrollably. I peeped one more time.. I was flushing a happy RED on my cheeks. .. !!

I felt NAKED, COOL and BALD… but above all emotions I was HAPPY I saw this thing through. What started out as a little prayer to god.. I got his kind, caring, lovely gift of restoring the smiles of my lovely family … and I returned it with this inconspicuous in front of that Re-turn gift. The scales of kindness will never balance. I will always be on the lighter side.. God is too kind. He gave us strength then. He will give me strength now as well. As from the beginning, I have never been one to feel shy of the stares and glances people will throw towards me. Every time they do, I will only be reminded of the gift of Love I received.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Freedom after 712 days !

March 25th 2008 – My family woke up to a tragedy at our factory ! It was a trying time for all of us. The media was reporting some bullshit about my father and uncle on a repeat basis under BREAKING NEWS FLASHES. Financial figures exploding on screen – but no one was bothered about what is happening behind the scenes. I can see their baby being reduced to ashes. When such things happen – you cannot help but think about a gazillions thoughts per mille-second. I was in Dubai, living the life of a party animal, which was about to change that very second ! This is the time when family huddles together, faces the outside world and keeps a brave face. But I was far away. I was living with my Mama, who has seen his fair share of roller coasters ups and downs and is a believer of Tirupati. Tirupati Balaji is his strength. His wife and him make a trip down each year to this temple in south which stands for strength in trying times. That is the time I decided – If I cannot be with my family, But I prayed for Balaji to stand by my family until I got there. And in turn I would give up my wrong ways and pay him a visit with the ultimate sacrifice.

For those of you who have known me for a decent number of years would know how much I love my hair… ! How much time and effort my mother invested in the initial years of my life to see that STRAND OF HOPE pop out of my bald head. They would also know I visit the salon every 6 weeks religiously to cut my hair. I spend an awfully amount of money on hair products – so see my hair fall on my shoulders like that in the shampoo adds ( people may beg to differ that they do not actually fall like the shampoo adverts). I also have a wall size mirror, followed by 2 dressing size mirrors in my room, so I can take a look at my hair from all angles before I step out of my house, hoping to get compliments on my beautiful hair. So, it made perfect sense. TIRUPATI would get the most expensive gift from me, and yet it would be the most inexpensive gift I would have ever given to anyone… MY HAIR.

Uptil that day, I was convinced it was all a money making business. And that the temple only encouraged the donation so that they could gather rich, beautiful, luscious Indian hair and sell it to salon in the west and make money out of it. Temple hair is popular with A listers like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, J-Lo, Kate Beckinsale. Perched on the hills of Tirupati, this hindu temple is the second richest temple after the Vatican city. Boasting up to 20 million pilgrims every year, money for its upkeep mainly comes from selling human hair from profits. Every day up to 4000 women sit in this religious ceremony called tonsuring in which they shave of their head and sacrifice it to Lord Vishnu. Girls do it especially in an attempt to sacrifice their pride and vanity in exchange of God’s blessings of health and happiness. I pledged my pride and vanity that morning of March 25, 2008.

Each passing day I would convince myself that one day I would make a trip to Tirupati to sacrifice my hair. That day never came. There was always an excuse for delaying this. I wasn’t scared to give the sacrifice – but there is always a wedding to go to or no one to go with to Tirupati, or flight rates being very expensive etc. But yesterday – Friday 6th March, 2010, I met my aunty who believes in Tirupati – she said I could do it anytime… except Saturday. God doesn’t accept sacrifices on Saturday. Hence Tomorrow – 7th March, 2010 I will finally happily give away my most dearest possession – my hair, as a Thank you for giving me multifolds… ! I truly do not deserve half the happiness I have been subjected to in the last 2 years.. I firmly believe Tirupati has a hand behind this all. 712 days since March 25th 2008….Freedom from a single most important thought which ruled my mind for 712 days !!


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