lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Name:
Location: Kolkata, India

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hasina zulfonwali jaanejahan

"Come on, Missus Em," coaxed my stylist. "You won't let me experiment, you won't grow your hair or change the basic style. I've been doing your hair for, what, eight years now? I am getting bored."

It was a fraught moment. It is a dangerous thing; to have your stylist bored doing your hair. Don't laugh. When you wear your hair in as extreme a short style as I do, you need a competent stylist, and they are rare. Oh, there are hundreds of them, I grant you. But a stylist who understands your hair, who can give a severe style a certain panache- he is a prize. A gem to be treasured.

If he gets bored, there's going to be trouble ahead. A good stylist can become a tyrant, for after all, the woman needs him more than he needs her custom. And mine did so, just then; became a tyrant, I mean.

Besides, he had a point. I've worn my hair ultra short for all of my adult life and apart from minor changes, the style has remained the same for nearly three decades. It is a sculpted version of my skull.

I had a buddy in college and he used to tease me. He could whistle whole tunes, and used to get a rise out of me, whistling "hasina zulfonwali." I don't know how it started, but he just had to whistle the opening bars to get me huffy.

I know why I got that first short cut, which is a radical decision for women after all, and now it can be told. I went and got my Zeenie Baby haircut just to spite my buddy and maybe shut him up about my hair. But he took one look at the new hairstyle and whistled. Yeah, you got it in one. "Hasina zulfonwali."

Ever since I got the Zeenat Aman cut, I've grown rather used to the convenience of short hair. There is not much care involved and it saves a lot of time. My hairstyle needs only towelling dry and running my fingers through my hair to set it.

Since Stella, the stylist who gave me my first short cut, I've had to change stylists for each city I lived in. But when I found a good one I stayed loyal because as I said earlier, I need a good stylist. When you wear your hair short, a bad cut gives an entire new meaning to the phrase 'bad hair day.' You can't do anything about it but wait for it to grow out enough to try remedial styling.

In Calcutta, my first stylist was Angela, a plump matronly woman who specialised in short cuts. When she retired, I was bereft until I found my current stylist.

(My mother used to dye her hair. Whether she went to a salon or did it at home, it used to consume her, hours and hours, and she'd fret about her roots needing touching up. That phrase used to take me off on tangential musings about ancestry, genealogy and why that might need doctoring. Maybe because you don't want anybody to get a closer look at the skeletons?

Here's a left-handed defintition. Genealogist: One who traces your family as far back as your money will go.)

Having seen my mother colour her hair, I promised myself I wouldn't ever go through such ordeals. The touching up of roots, the mess of the dye, the reek of ammonia and the sheer unnatural black her hair always looked at the end of the sessions convinced me that greying gracefully was the better option.

While I happily used henna to condition my hair and give it a slight tint, I wasn't going to ever colour my hair, no way, no how, never. The first time I found a grey strand, I stopped my henna treatments. I'd seen too many people with the awful orange hue that henna changes grey into. I didn't want that.

I said as much to my stylist. I am as old as I am and why should I hide that fact, I said. I can't stand the smell and it's ruinous for hair to subject it to all those chemicals, I argued. Ah, Missus Em, those were primitive days, he said. Colouring your hair doesn't mean subjecting it to trauma, nowadays. In fact, some of the stuff acts as a conditioner, he said.

I dislike that artificial black, my hair isn't that black, after all. I said. No worries, Missus Em, he said. There are natural browns, dark colours, what ever; you'll look good, I promise you, he said.

I protested that the kind of dyes he was thinking of were for women of a much younger age bracket. He didn't quote Shakespeare at me, but made it clear that my age had nothing to do with the colour my hair was. Just look at the sample colours, he urged me. So I took a gander at the colour chart and samples. "But none of them really match my hair colour," I pointed out.

"Be adventurous, Missus Em." He said.

I gave up. As a victor my stylist was gracious.

After half an hour of noxious vapours and odours (don't get fooled by tags like gentle, nourishing or replenishing, the stuff still stinks), the goo he smeared all over my head was shampooed off. "Wow, this looks good," he crooned as he blow- dried my hair. He propelled me towards the plate glass window so I could see how my hair looked in real light.

I told you I gave up. I mean it. What colour my hair is nowadays is entirely dependent on his whim. Some months I am walnut brown verging on black. Some months I am mahogany and ebony combined. Some months I am just chestnut brown, and some months I am dark chocolate.

The last time I went to get my hair done I discovered my stylist has more plans for me. He wants to give me highlights now.

"Come on, Missus Em," he said. Sigh.


Cheers!

15 Comments:

Anonymous Ash said...

Held in thrall by your stylist, poor Missus Em. Look around for another, why don't you?

3:05 pm  
Blogger db said...

The stylist is bored !! ... What the ???

Tell you what, Missus Em .. time to give your stylist a change from boredom .. find a new one ... he'll stop getting bored of the money he charges you ..

6:47 pm  
Anonymous Non Sequitur Man said...

Dear Madam,

You have my sympathy. I appreciate your predicament. Perhaps you know of my own travails with my head gardener, McAllister. The man is in my pay and still tyrannises me.

Your obedient servant,

Emsworth of Blandings.

7:33 pm  
Blogger Rimi said...

My Lord! Allow me to express my enchantment at this rare, nae, never-before-had chance of enquiring after the Empress from her reclusive master. I hope she eats well still?

Lali, what wonderful people one meets at your blog. One (one does not wish to name self and put oneself too forward...) wishes they would stop by occasionally at ones blog as well. Do get Mr. Holmes to drop by once in a while.

However, this:
He wants to give me highlights now. . This, I'd LOVE to see!

9:49 pm  
Blogger Rimi said...

My Lord! Allow me to express my enchantment at this rare, nae, never-before-had chance of enquiring after the Empress from her reclusive master. I hope she eats well still?

Lali, what wonderful people one meets at your blog. One (one does not wish to name self and put oneself too forward...) wishes they would stop by occasionally at ones blog as well. Do get Mr. Holmes to drop by once in a while.

However, this:
He wants to give me highlights now. . This, I'd LOVE to see!

9:49 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ash- To quote Rimi, go away. You just don't know. You think I haven't tried shopping around?

Ram- You too. He might be bored doing the same cut yet again, but he is a genius so I clench my teeth and let him colour me as per his whim. Don't ask. The cut is more important than the colour, let's say.

NSM-Charmed to hear from you, m'lord.

I sympathise with you, too. How is Wellbeloved? Staying out of imprisonment, I hope.

11:16 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Rimi- If wishes were fishes, we'd all cast nets. Frank Herbert.

I wish they'd comment more often, too. But what to do, my readers are capricious only. :D

They comment as and when, and months of begging seems to be of no avail. Sigh.

Holmes, hm. I will soon whip that lad into shape.

11:24 pm  
Blogger Speech is Golden said...

Next time it is gonna be pink with purple steaks. Wat say Missus Em.

5:41 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ram- I beg you, not so loud. I don't want him getting such inspirations. :D

8:39 am  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

Amazing you can write riveting stuff about such trivial things, Lali.

I don't even see what the problem is. Get the highlights if it gives your stylist any job satisfaction. Don't tip him though. :-)

10:16 am  
Blogger jhantu said...

wonderfully hairy post

12:00 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Rajesh- Wonderful advice. But I dont tip him any way. WAIL.

Jhantu- :D Words fail me.

12:50 am  
Blogger Priya said...

Can't wait to see you, Babe;)

1:11 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- Ditto, ditto, dahling. :D

5:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:31 am  

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