Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Haircut Hypothesis (Guest Post)

As a 12th grader whose preboards are about to commence in a week, it has been pretty difficult to find time for my blog. And even if I somehow manage to squeeze out a little time by giving up on watching an episode of Modern Family, which has become a part of my schedule now, I just don't wish to put up something on the blog unless it's something absolutely brilliant to make up for the fact that I haven't been posting enough lately. And so I drop the idea of posting anything at all, because to be honest, I'd rather be lazy than stupid. And since I love you too much, hypothetical reader, to not put up anything at all, here's something that I managed to bully my brother into writing for this blog. :)

I try to pull a Ranbir Kapoor from Anjaana Anjaani, who stands resting his back against the wall. The office workload and the pseudo post breakup grimace on my face; I act it out perfectly while in the shower, trying to look as serious as Alok Nath with four widowed daughters. I let the water pour on my head and trickle down my cheeks to mask the tears which I wish I could act well enough to secrete naturally from my eyes. My heart does a bit of a jig inside, telling itself that its abode is a brilliant actor. I try hard to not let the scene break, and enjoy the beauty of an act like that in a hot shower on a winter morning. With some experience in theatre, one tends to push it further and overact a bit. So, I decide to tilt my head further back into the wall and then crouch down silently, gliding my spine on the bathroom tiles to my way down. That is the plan. Ah, let’s do it! And as soon as my head decides to obey my command and places the tip, the little circle that makes a whirlpool of hair on my scalp, against the wet tile, I feel a tender cold touch on my head. It’s a nice cold feeling. I begin to wonder why I never experienced it before. I wonder why I couldn’t feel it at the lower back of my head when it was touching the bathroom wall for the past few minutes. Oh wait! The scene breaks due to a brilliant realization right in the middle of a Bathroom Oscar winning performance.

I immediately move away from the edge of the bathroom, and my fingers run to the top of my head. They pat around violently, in a state of confusion, stomping the finger tips on my scalp trying to imitate Sunny Deol’s foot movements in the song where he does this pulling out a hand-pump from the ground step. (Which song was that?) I throw a towel on my head, rub it furiously and then reveal my dried hair to the mirror. I’ve had a receded hairline for quite some time now, but I don’t think one can look at the back of my head and point out that I’m balding. Y’know, how Saif’s hair has styled itself since Race hit the theatres some four years back. But my fingers suddenly feel cooler on the scalp, right on the tip of my head. I figured how I didn’t wish to try crazy hairstyles like Akshay Khanna to hide the soon to appear bald spots, so a trip to the barber was planned. “I’ll keep my hair cropped short. Short is neat. It’s neat in a suit, nasty in a leather jacket.” *chewing on a twig smirk, baby doll*

I walk into the barber shop and see the seats occupied. I really hope that the guy who I like getting my hair cut from gets free before the other two hair dressers. I always feel a little sad when put in a situation where I’m invited to a chair, but have to heartlessly deny the offer ‘cuz I don’t want to be attended to by the not so experienced barber. In my defense, whenever I’ve thought of being a nice guy and giving the youngest barber a chance to cut my hair, the session has always ended with me wanting to ask him if even his sister would ever think of dating someone whose hair has been cut like that.

I decide to wait on the couch and flip through all the pictures in the Filmfare and Stardust lying on the table in front of me before it’s time for my turn. Deciding on the speed at which one flips pages is a gamble, here. I don’t want to be done with looking at just half a magazine till I’m called for my turn; nor do I want to finish flipping through them too early. It’s just like rationing the portion of subzi on your plate to match with the morsels of rotis on your platter. (It’s a bloody middle class analogy, really. But whatever, I do it all the time.) I try to read an article in the magazine, and call it a coincidence if you may; any article that interests me is next to a full page lingerie ad. Every effing time! Now, it’s ok. I’m at a place full of men. No one’s gonna judge me even if that page is blaring into everyone’s faces right in the middle of the “saloon”. All the uncles sitting around will probably thank me for holding on to that page for that long. “Ah, it’s all chill. Read the interview anyway”, I tell myself. And then in a minute, I start to feel really awkward about the tubelight reflecting on the glossy paper with a picture of a red laced bra. “F***, is it weird that I’m still reading this?”… “Um, I think I’ll just turn the page.”… “Uh, no. I think people know I’m grown up enough to be ok with this. Let’s just read on.”… “F*** it, I’m turning the page”.

I’m soon called by the guy who normally cuts my hair, and I thank my stars for not putting me in the I’m-not-getting-a-haircut-from-you situation today. I sit on the chair and he puts the blue cloak around me. It’s not one of those fancy barber cloaks that has a velcro collar. It’s like one of those cheap polyester bed sheets that he’ll furl in the air like a matador after the haircut, and make hair rain in the room. He knots it around my neck, uses his spray gun to wet my hair and then asks how I’d want it cut. It’s funny how he asks that every time, when I’m not someone who orders for a mullet once and a mohawk the next time in the past seven years of letting him cutting my hair. So I tell him to shorten my side-burns while keeping their volume intact, knowing well enough that he’ll crop the hair around my ears really short again. “Baal chhote kar dena”, I tell him, also specifying that I want it short enough to not be combed and long enough for it to not stand like baby porcupine spines on my head.

He starts snipping, while watching either Zee Cinema or Star Cricket. I can tell from knowing him through all these years that he is a big fan of Govinda and Ajay Devgn. It kind of scares me at times, since these are the only two actors whose movies’ rights Zee Cinema can afford to buy. And then there’s a bit of a Govinda look alike in Sehwag, too. It scares me ‘cuz then he gets distracted, running his fingers through the holes on the scissors, while keeping his eyes fixed on the TV screen. My fear vanishes in less than fifteen seconds, when I start finding the dialogues interesting and try to look at the television set from the mirror in front of me. What follows is a push of his hand on my head to tilt and get the right angle, countered by the thrust of my head against his hand so that I can enjoy a few minutes of a ‘90s Govinda starrer through the corner of my eyes.

He finally stops and asks me if I think the length of the hair is fine. I just nod in silence, knowing that no matter how good or bad a job he does of cutting my hair, it’s all eventually in the hands of mother nature. He holds up a mirror at the back of my head and I see my hair thinning. It breaks my heart a little too much and I ask, “Baal kam ho gaye na?” He replies like a Haryanvi Shahrukh to Preity Zinta in Kal Ho Naa Ho, saying that it’s all gonna be fine. He gives me a nice head massage to relieve the tension off, knowing that I’ll tip him extra for that. I gladly get up after having let my head be treated like a percussion instrument, and pay him a little extra with a smile.

It’s effing gay how towards the end, this is sounding more like some deep connection I have developed with my barber over a haircut, and less about my thinning hair. But anyway, it’s a sign of growing up isn’t it? Pessimists call it ageing. But, growing up it is, and I think I’ll let my new hairstyle grow on me. (Bad, bad pun.)

- by Sarthak Ahuja (on special request)

You can check out Sarthak's blog here.
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