As a young boy my father never let me grow long hairs. My father was quite certain that a youngster who has long hairs would never grow up to be a disciplined and intelligent person. Alas! He did not live long enough to see that I am neither despite having short hairs as an youngster. Thus, haircut was a monthly but disgusting exercise for me. The moment it would reach styling stage, I would be taken to a particular barber the very next Sunday and the undisciplined growth would be done away with. I used to pray that the offending growth would start on a Monday so that atleast till Saturday I could continue styling my hair. I was in awe of the way Shashi Kapoor combed his hair. Alas! That never happened and maybe one of the first reasons why I got suspicious about the existence of God.
By the by, the saloon was named as`New Royal Hair Dressers’. There was nothing royal about that place, it had a few old wooden benches and an equally disgusting long table on which I was made to sit for a haircut. The barber himself was so old that I used to think he should have given Robert Clive’s army many a haircuts. Such a stooge he was, he would ensure that that the growth of hair was razed to the ground. No wonder! My father used to drag me and my brother to a hair cut only to him. The saloon was very close to the railway track and how many times I had hoped that a train would skip its track and run into the saloon when the barber was inside it.
I was the constant subject of ridicule amongst my classmates for the short hairs I had but none of those taunts passed through MIS (Mother Information Systems) to my father got me any relief. I was resigned to a life from a very young age of not disturbing the comb and now that I am forty plus, with hair disappearing rapidly, very soon the comb will take its final leave from me.
During winter seasons (Bangalore used to be cold at that time during winters), I was forced to wear monkey caps during night time to keep myself warm. (Now don’t ask me, was it called a monkey cap just because people like me wore it?). Wearing the monkey cap meant little strands of hairs used to be standing up in the morning when the cap was removed and flattening them was a next to impossible task. Not flattening them and going to school was never an option because it meant more taunts from my friends. I used to apply coconut oil, water to bring down the `erection’. Even when the hairs were grown , they never used to sit consistently as it was combed. My obdurate Granny used to remark, this is a sure sign that he will never settle into a family life and here I am a very obedient husband. How wrong these superstitions are!
It was in such a scenario, when I was studying in 7th standard my elder brother purchased an imported Hair Dryer. I had no idea what a hair dryer could do except overheard the fact that it can style hair. It was a Wednesday and my hairs had grown long enough to be razed down the coming Sunday. This was my best chance to go to school with my favorite “Shashi Kapoor” style. I got up the next day, had a bath, went in front of the mirror, applied a lot of coconut oil and combed my hair in my favorite “Shashi Kapoor” style and asked my brother to put on the dryer, so that hair could set well. The entire household was laughing their guts out. Finally, my elder brother controlled his laughter and told me that a hair dryer can only dry little water on the hair and not oil. I was feeling abashed but my mother comforted me and asked me to skip school, have a head bath and stay at home. When my father came back from office, the incident was narrated, he too laughed it off and realizing the fact that now I was an adolescent, let me grow my hairs for a longer period of time. The gap between two haircuts was increased to two months. Finally! I could comb my hair like `Shashi Kapoor’.