lalita larking

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

Location: Kolkata, India

Monday, November 20, 2006

In which Missus Em contemplates defection

It feels like defection, betrayal and adultery all rolled in one. And it is my own fault.

What with one thing or the other, and things were hectic I tell you, I missed my monthly snip session. My hair is short and severely styled, so I could go for weeks without visiting my salon, were it not for the fact that my hair grows fast. I need a trim back to the original cut every three weeks to maintain the shape. It was seven weeks and counting.

Now a style or a cut can last a while, but there is a point when it stops looking as it was meant to be. It was at that point, I guess, that I chanced to look at myself properly and was struck aghast. Short it might be, my hairstyle was chic. Now it had grown out of the cut so much that it looked simply too awkward. I had oodles of things on my mind, yes, but this was not to be borne. I hotfooted it to my salon.

"R is on leave, ma'am. He went to Delhi for a refresher course," said the receptionist. My heart sank. I really needed that cut. I couldn't stand how my hair looked any longer. She saw my desperation and said, "P could do your hair. He's very good ma'am."

Perhaps P is very good, but R knows my hair. He's been styling it for many years now. Other than being a tyrant about colouring it, he doesn't mind that I refuse to change the style and always gives me a good cut. Like I said once before, when you sport an extreme hairstyle, you need a good cut and that means a good stylist.

But needs must, after all. I shouldn't have missed the month's trim session, and since I had, I just had to trust that P would do a decent trim that would tide me over till R came back.

Most senior stylists don't do the shampoo and the blow-dry part of the job. It is beneath their dignity. Either P was not a senior stylist or was being nice to me, but he shampooed me himself. And made conversation.

'You really let the cut grow totally out of shape, ma'am," he said. I agreed, saying it's been a busy few weeks, so I'd neglected my hair.

"I could give you the same cut R Bhai gives, ma'am, but I'd like to do it my way. If you don't like it, I'll restyle it like your regular cut," he said. He'd seen me getting my hair styled by R, and he'd been thinking about how he'd do my hair, he said.

I was surprised. Women flock to my salon in their hordes, and most of them have long manes that would take a variety of styles. A stylist can be creative with shoulder-length hair. My hairstyle is so severe that there is hardly any scope for innovation. I said as much.

"No ma'am, R Bhai and Z bhai before him gave you a classic cut, but I'd do it differently," P said. I was intrigued, but I warned him that I'd like to be able to revert to my regular cut if I didn't like his version. He agreed and started snipping.

"You see, R Bhai raises the hairline at your nape, but you are slim and don't need the short back to create the illusion of a longer neck. So I am going to thin and feather the nape, and taper the line." P said as he nudged my head down and wielded scissors and comb. He'd really thought this over, it was clear. I was flattered.

The cut proceeded millimeter by millimeter, P chatting away at me and asking questions. After some twenty minutes of painstaking shaping he declared himself done, and blow-dried and finger-combed to set my new cut. I looked at myself.

It was more or less the same style I've always worn my hair, short and sculpted. But there was a subtle difference. It looked more feminine, fuller and wilder. It made me look tousled and younger. At my age looking younger is a welcome idea, after all.

He fetched a mirror so I could view the back. There too, the style looked the same but was subtly different. I stared at myself and tried to pinpoint the difference.

Then it came to me. P hadn't cut the seven weeks' worth of growth down, but shaped it into a style that was a replica of the cut the legendary Habib Senior had given me two decades ago. No wonder I thought I looked younger. Over the years my hairstyle had grown shorter and shorter, but P used that extra length for a cut that was classic and very individual.

I told him I liked it, and thanked him.

That was last month. A few days ago, I went for my monthly trim again, and R was back from Delhi. "Who did your hair?" he asked as he began the trim, after an assistant shampooed my hair. I told him. 'Hmm," he said. "He gave you a tapered line." I detected a note of disapproval in his voice. He keeps it straight.

"I liked it," I mumbled. It felt like admitting that I had an affair, that I had been unfaithful.

"And he didn't know you prefer ultra short," R went on, clinically snipping inches off. "That cut was way too long from what you usually have." R styled my hair, and I was back to my old cut.

All last month, each time I looked in the mirror, I liked the style. And I'd liked the way P reasoned, the way he told me why he was doing what he did. He'd thought about doing my hair, and that was flattering. The cut he gave me was flattering, too. Now my old style seemed too severe and I felt dissatisfied.

I found myself wishing P had done my hair. And I felt I was being disloyal to R and that made it worse. I felt miserable. But each time I caught a glimpse of myself, the dissatisfaction grew.

I am a loyal person. I tend to go to the same shops, buy the same brands and use the services of the same people. But.

Now I know how it feels to contemplate an affair. R styled my hair for ages, but now I want that difference P made.

I think I will soon know how divorced people feel on seeing their exes with others, too. Because I am going to let this style grow out and I am going to defect.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

O Boy! ur comparison is awesome. hair styles and divorced people....

Exactly know what u are saying, am going thru the same dilemma of going back to my old stylist or the new one. Can indentify with u since had short hair all my life and know the importance of a good hair style.

Seeing ur post have decided to be unfaithful.... wonder how that feels for temporary fun though.... I mean out of a married for thought on a Monday afternoon.


12:23 am  
Anonymous Prabhu said...

Psst. Can you tell me the trick by which hair grows fast? :D

8:46 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Anon- Hey, unfair saying "seeing ur post have decided to be unfaithful" as you were contemplating it already.

And when you find out about temporary fun, do let me know. I wonder, too.

Prabhu- Genes. :-)

10:31 am  
Blogger Priya said...

I've been there and done that. Now I've decided to stick to loyalty. No divorce on the cards, surely, but now that you mention, a little adultery should be healthy ;) Naughty, naughty missus Em, how you lead on.

10:49 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- Defectiion or adultery? Clarify. Which have you bought the T shirt for? *evil grin*

2:46 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

What agonising over changing hair stylists! Post something serious, Lali.

5:00 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ash- No way, no how. I am going to be silly, so there.

Seriously, who would want to read about comparisons od Iliad and Mahabharata and Ramayana? Huh? Cut us some slack, Ash.

10:41 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Sheesh, comparisons *of*
Excuse the typo, only.

Ze Lark

10:43 pm  
Anonymous Hehhh said...

If I should meet thee
After long years
How should I greet thee?
With silence and tears.

Total Heartbreak Hotel only.

Or should we now call it Heartbreak Hairdressers.

If you switched, and then the first now filled in for the second, would it be the unkindest cut of all ?


6:09 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Hehhh- Cut to the quick, is Missus Em, by that flippancy.

6:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me be afflicted
By barbers that inflicted
Such atrocities on me hair
That I shut eyes and refuse to bear
Mute testimony to what they
keep doing o my hair .. ;-)

2:48 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Alien- Join me, defect. Find a decent barber. :-)

2:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My barbers be ruthless
They know no scissors
No finesse
Situation demands
They only use clippers
And mow my hair
Like programmed lawn mowers ...

:-)... silly limericks i guess...

6:20 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Clippers. *shudder* Don't tell me about clippers. All the stylists I ever had were very big on clippers. Serves me right for wearing a severe hair style.

7:51 pm  

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