Five Reasons Why You Should Get A Short Haircut Once In Your Lifetime

Sorry for this misleading title.   I do not have any reason for you to get a short haircut! I got one recently. So I wanted to blog about it.  I just thought this title was cool!

Actually let me start with a little background on my hair.

I have had long hair since the time I have been 16.  My natural hair was thick and curly. Curly hair looks amazing when it wants to. If you take care daily.  Most of the times, it is a struggle to manage it.  At 22,  I got my hair straightened (temporarily) for the first time.  It was such a relief that my hair could just be. So effortless. No leave in conditioner. No mousse. No serum.  Ever since, I got temporary ironing / blow dry regularly.  I would consider smoothening. But my question to the stylist would be ‘Will my curls go away?’ The good stylists would respond in the range of ‘Yes’ to ‘Don’t know how the hair would respond’.  Greedy ones would say ‘Just go for it. Your hair is too damaged, lifeless, falling to keep as it is.’  (I have written about parlour bullies before in this article). Finally, three years ago I had the courage to get it smoothened the first time.

Now, once you get your hair smoothened, you have to keep doing it.   Every time the hair gets thinner.  But then if you don’t, it looks ugly.  So you have no choice.  It is a vicious cycle. Every time I got smoothening again, I pledged that I would wait for my natural curls to come back.

But they never did.  Actually, it becomes wavy form the top, and remains straight from the bottom!

So, I keep getting confused between waiting for curls to come back vs getting it smoothened again!

In the midst of this confusion, I thought of getting a hair cut to change my look before a recent vacation.  Husband said it would suit me a lot and I must get it really really short. I did not want really short. I just wanted some change.

Husband: Get hair like her:

Image

Me :  Wasn’t that haircut meant to punish her? And she was also made to walk naked! To humiliate her!

Husband: She kept that hairstyle for three seasons! Because it looked good! Boy cut hair will suit you!

Me: Boy cut! Haven’t heard that since school. I don’t think they call it that anymore!

Husband: Get short hair till chin. It will look very nice.

Me: Nah!

Husband: Try once! What is the worse that could happen!

Me: It could be awful! I would not be able to leave the house for 6 months! I could lose my job!

Husband: Don’t be dramatic!  It is just hair! It will grow back!

Me: Are you trying to do this so that I look ugly and nobody will ever look at me?

Husband: Haha. Just get short hair and see..  It will be the best.

I started searching for ‘short hairstyles for broad faces’.  The results were quite nice actually.  Pixie cut . Short blunts. It was an unexplored world out there…

I liked this one:

Image

Of course I am aware my face is nothing like hers! So I brushed the idea off.

But somehow the thought was stuck in my head.

I kept downloading apps that let you try on new haircuts.  The idea of something new is scary but thrilling.

I soon became obsessed.

My husband’s words along with DDLJ line made me take the plunge:

Kya aap mujhe meri apni zindagi se ek maheena bhi nahi de sakte?

Kya main mujhe meri apni zindagi se ek haircut bhi nahi de sakti?

What’s the harm in trying! It is hair! It will grow back!

So I went to the stylist.  My husband dropped me there while he went to office to finish the work. He explained to the stylist to make is really short.

I felt like I was a little kid when my mother used to cut my hair.   She would make it very short so that it was easy for her.

Once he left I pleaded the lady to not make it too short. As expected, she asked me to do an expensive cysteine treatment first. Now, I do not know if these parlours have trick mirrors but I was looking pretty that day!  My hair was also looking pretty.   The lady told me it is lifeless.  I think it had a life. But anyway, after thinking for 10 minutes, I said yes.

And so my hair was cut short. Really short from the back. And short from the front.  And the wash was the next day. So the following day, it was oily and looked very chipku. Short plus chipku. I was so conscious about it that for some time I thought of working from home!

It has been more than a week.   I bought the expensive shampoo and conditioner they make you buy after a treatment, the one which they threaten that if you don’t use it,  the treatment will go away. Now after spending so much money on the treatment, you obviously try to retain it.

The best part is the comments  you receive after you getting a haircut. Most people like to say:

You got a haircut!!

It is neither a comment nor a compliment. It acknowledges the fact that you did something and we noticed.

Some polite people accompany it with a nice at the end:

You got a haircut!! Nice!!

Others are clever and diplomatic:

It is different!

That is a safe thing to say. Can’t argue that it is not different. At the same time, they are not saying that it is good or bad.

The strangest thing about women getting a haircut is other women mourning the loss of your hair.

Why did you get a haircut!

You had such nice, long hair!

But why!

But your hair was so pretty!

This grief from others for your hair which will grow back is hard to understand!

Also, I realized that people want to know why you got a haircut. You better have a reason.

Just like that!

For a change!

Something different!

Trying something new!

Nope. These replies will be rejected. There would be further probing. People think you can’t possibly be stupid enough to just cut your hair!

They want something like:

I was suffering from hair loss!

I am sick!

I got lice in my hair and had to chop it off!

Just when I thought I was was done with all the new hair comments, my mother’s maid said to me, ‘Didi!!! Baal kyun kataye!’

My father who has no idea that this is a common thing to say among women was surprised.  ‘Bolo Didi baal achcha lag raha hai!’ He corrected her.

‘Itna achha lamba baal tha, didi ka!’ She refused to stop mourning.

Went to meet Maa-in-law. I thought if she doesn’t like my new hair, I could get her to scold the husband.  But she said she liked it.  She told me history repeats.  My father-in-law had also made her cut her hair which was very thick, and long.  It reminded me that my father made my mother have a short hair cut for a very long time, something my sister and I didn’t like but she did keep it for the longest time. I have my theories of why husbands like their wives’ hair short but I will keep them to myself!

Recently, we had a festival, Teej.  I had put on maang teeka and nath.  I was a little worried about pulling it off with short hair, but it looked pretty good.

So this was my short hair story. I am enjoying the new look and it is definitely very easy to manage.  Another blogger friend had got her hair short recently and I loved her hair.  She also encouraged me to try short hair. If you have a short hair story, do share with me in the comments!

Featured image source

 

 

Some Thoughts On My First Anniversary

Last year this day my husband and I tied the knot.   I was 30.  He was a few years older.  We were not too young.  We were expected to be mature. Experienced. Wise. Both had lived alone. Both had managed a household before.  Both were comfortable professionally.

But we defied age.  We fought like little kids.   We fought for who does how much work in the house. We fought for sharing the cupboard space.  We fought about who never gets up to answer the door for the maid.  We fought about who sleeps more!

We were not the couple who would post ‘Aww! Sweetie, you complete me! How did I ever live without you!’

We were very much complete and alive before meeting each other!

We were not the couple who others looked at said,  ‘Oh my you two! You make us believe in love!’

We were the couple to whom people said, ‘Are fir se jhagda kar liya!’

What kind of a couple are we?

I guess… The real type!!

Fresh off The Other  Side

When you marry early, you have something to fear. It is the fear of ending up alone.  But when you marry late, you have already overcome that fear.  You have survived break-ups. You have learnt to live alone. You have fallen down, reached rock bottom and risen.  You have watched your friends post Hallmark photos with their spouses and toddlers.  Seeing their content faces, you have wished, ‘Why could I not have that!’  But then you see your life, happy and peaceful, and you have said to yourself ‘That would have been nice. But this is good too. It is nice actually!’

The one thing you teach yourself is that you do not need anyone.  You have made yourself so independent. You are better off alone.

How do you unlearn all of that? 

The man I married

Last year, probably a week away from today, my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Switzerland.   We were travelling in a train.  A lady (reasonably older) had got on with a lot of luggage.  She was struggling with it to get on.  With great difficulty she managed to find herself a spot to stand with her three suitcases.  The way she was struggling with them,  they seemed bulky and heavy. She had barely given a sigh of relief as people started getting down at the next stop and she spotted a sight to sit. The problem was to reach the seat she had to pass through the stairs.   She started dragging all her three suitcases  towards the empty seat up the stairs.  Other people were looking at her and trying to give her space to move.  My husband walked up to her and offered to move her luggage for her.  He did it for her. One by one while she looked at him gratefully. She said to my husband, “You are very kind, gentleman”. 

I was smiling in pride.

There are so many other things he has done.

When he was unwell, but he still volunteered to drop my sister to the airport.

When I was buying a doll for my niece in Paris, and looked at the price, and he told me not to think about it. And went ahead and paid.

When he gets chicken momos for me on his way back from office.

When he tells my Maa-in-law to get my favorite peda from our hometown!

When he makes Maggi with pyaaz on Sundays!

But the problem is when the daily grind gets to us, the atta, chawal, maid, loan instalments, we stop seeing the bigger picture. We forget the person we married. We forget the good in them.

My Life Now

Few days ago, I had gone to the mall to shop for an upcoming vacation. My husband was also at the same mall but he had to buy electronics, so he was shopping separately.  I was searching for clothes, trying them out but I had no clue what I liked.  I would try on something, but without his approving nod and smile, I had no idea if I looked good. I bought nothing.

Another day,  I called him to ask what time he would be coming home. He said he would be late.  Disappointed, I ate alone.  I put on Netflix.   I felt tempted to watch the next episode of Delhi Crime.   But I ended up watching something else.   Something I do not care about. Not because I cannot watch it without him. But because what is the fun watching without us commenting on it together!

On my first anniversary

Marriage requires a lot of effort. And since it is such a life term project, it gets exhausting! What is good and what is bad? I guess it is like that day in the mall. Or the day alone at home.   The home and the outside world suddenly becomes weird without the one person you did not know until a couple of years back. And you feel lost. 

Some gyaan

To all those couples like me in a new marriage, hang in there!   Perfect couples are fictional! Remember the movie, Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd! Half of our problems exist because we feel that others have it easier.

Never ever feel put down or disheartened with rough patches.  It is all part and parcel of the package deal!

Remember, for better or for worse!

In sickness, and in health!

To love and to cherish!

And last but not the least, remember the person you married. 

Cheers to all the real couples out there!

Haste haste (Ladte Ladte) Kat Jayein Raste, Zindagi Yoon Hi Chalti Rahe,

Khushi mile ya ghum, badleinge na hum, duniya chahe badalti rahe!

 

 

 

What made you sad today?

Thursdays it was. Library period is what they called it.  They would remove their shoes outside.  The library was as small as a regular classroom. Yet, for her it was a fortune. Which book should she pick? She had all the options in the world! Aisle after aisle. Shelf after shelf. The smell of old books. Some bookmarks left as it is. Some pages torn.  Some drawings made.  The library card where she would put her name. And read the names of everyone else who checked it our before her. The Enid Blyton Books..

Then there would be the book sale, announced well in advance.  She was not supposed to carry any money to school. But for the book fair she would be allowed. She loved reading those abridged classics. The beautiful pictures on the covers. The blurb on the back.  The smell of new books.  It did not matter whether the book was old or new. Whether she borrowed from the library or bought from the fair.  The books unleashed a different world.  A world of dreams. A world of knowledge.

Today, it makes her sad that she will never smell those books again.

The rainy season would start. Monsoon as they would call it.  Her mother would pick her up from school. Sometimes, they would not find an auto or rickshaw. So they would have to walk home.   In the rain. And keechad.  Cars would pass by.  There would be a splash.  Mostly on the red skirt. But sometimes on the crisp, ironed white shirt too. The dirt on the road. The smell of the rain. She would love to make a puddle.   She would jump at each step as her mother would try to drag her to walk properly. Dogs, cows, people, cars, cycles all moved in the rain. 

Today, It makes her sad that she will never make that puddle again.

Summer vacation would start. Her cousins would arrive.  Her father had purchased a video game for her. It had two games. Shoot the duck with a gun. And Mario. They would take turns to play. How cool it was, that she was the only girl in the neighborhood who had the game. Would her Mario survive the dragons at the end of the fourth level?  Thank you Mario but our princess is in another castle – The screen would read.  Would her Mario find his princess at the end of the eighth world? Would she and her brother be able to play simultaneously as Mario and Luigi?

Today, It makes her sad that her Mario will never meet the Princess again.

Little joys were so simple to achieve then..  She thought when she grew up there would be something so much bigger. Better. Bigger happiness! Little did she know….

It was not until she became an adult that she realized:

Happiness comes at a very heavy price!

जीने के लिए सोचा ही नहीं
दर्द संभालने होंगे
मुस्कुराये तो मुस्कुराने के
क़र्ज़ उतारने होंगे

 

 

Beauty And The Beast Within

The cute child

“Bachche Chacha Nehru se pyaar karte the! Chacha Nehru khoobsurat the. Bachche har khoobsurat cheez se pyaar karte hain!”

I listened, admiring my beautiful Hindi teacher reading out a chapter on Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.  The teacher was very fond of me. “You look like a doll!” She would say. I would blush.

An attractive teacher talking about a charismatic personality.  A reasonably cute looking child listening intently.  The beautiful atmosphere was interrupted as a girl in shabby clothes and slippers walked in along with our class teacher.  Her hair was brown, with knots, lacking any kind of nourishment.  Her complexion was dull.  She looked dazed as if she woke up on another planet. Her skirt looked more like a lehenga reaching her calf, matched with a miserable, baggy, shirt. It must be her father’s, I thought.

“This is Champa. She would be joining your class today.” The teacher said hurriedly. “Let her sit next to the class monitor for few weeks till we assign her another place. Meghna, you sit next to Komal for now.  Tanvi, Champa will be sitting next to you.  Please help her with the books, uniform etc.”

I was horrified! Champa’s admission was part of a reach out program, wherein a child from a nearby slum would be selected for education free of cost.  Some of us had heard about this proposal. We had no idea it would be implemented. I had no idea it would affect me. Directly!

The next few days were difficult for me.  But how difficult was it for Champa to fit in? Kids made fun of her brutally.  They asked her if she ever showered.   There was an outbreak of lice soon after she joined. She was alleged to be the origin. Guilty until proven innocent. She bought chapati or chuda for lunch.  She ate alone. She was different.

I was conscious of my behavior at school. I was never mean to her. But deep down I found her repulsive. I hated sitting next to her.

One day, after lunch I was playing with friends. Tag. Then on the Merry Go Around. The first bell rang as an indication to us to go back to our classrooms. As I was running, I felt a weird sensation. Within a few seconds even before I realized, I had vomited. In front of everyone.

There was some vomit on my perfectly ironed white shirt. And probably some drool on my face.

One teacher commented, “Such a big girl! Cannot even control herself!! Don’t you know there is a toilet?”

Some kids laughed. Others said “Ewww” and moved away in disgust.

I had tears in my eyes.  As I made the walk of shame towards the washroom, someone held my hand.  I turned in surprise.

There she was. Champa.  As expressionless as ever.  But holding me tight and safe. She held my hand and helped me clean up. She did not say a word. But stayed with me throughout.

Few days later, she stopped coming to school.  She disappeared as abruptly as she had appeared. Some people said that parents had complained about the reach out program. Others said the management felt it was not working out. Some said her parents had decided that studies would not do her any good. Nobody knew for sure.  I never saw her again.

The ugly duckling

Few years later, my father got transferred to the United States. I was a teenager by now studying in a junior high school at New York City. One of the poshest cities in the world. With people from all over the world.  All races.  There were blonde beauties. And Hispanic beauties. And Asian beauties. Girls my age had voluptuous bodies.  My breasts had refused to show up. My buttocks were also equally flat. I wore glasses. And braces.  I had round chipmunk cheeks. I was one of the shortest people in the class.

Kids were at the age where they bully. My school was no exception.  Some desi kids like me who did not fit in were told ‘You stink’  to our faces.  Some would express reluctance to sit next to us. While walking home, there was this once particularly big guy from a senior grade who would scream at me every day, ‘You are UGLY!!!’  just in case I had forgotten.

For the first time in life I felt what it feels like to feel inferior. In every way. I felt like I was at the absolute lowest strata of society.  Being popular, being liked by the opposite sex, getting proposals on Valentine’s Day could only be a dream. I would be grateful if the day passed without any major humiliation.

Is this how Champa felt..?

I became quiet.  I was still a very good student. Being intelligent was my pride.  The few people who got to know me said I was a ‘very nice girl’.  I had few friends.  But they would all vouch for me.

A transformation

Another few years passed.  I was back in India.  I blossomed late. But I finally blossomed. I looked much better in college and in my 20’s. I was now on the better-looking side. This ‘above average’ spectrum had its own set of issues. Women felt jealous and made mean comments, totally unwarranted.  Random people thought that if a girl  is  into her looks and puts on makeup it means she is dumb and shallow. I got attention from boys who were not at all serious and I had to deal with their obnoxious attitude at feeling rejected.  Some people found me arrogant when it fact I was just an introvert.

Was this still better than being on the other side of beauty…?

I have been on different sides of ‘beauty’ at different phases of life. Here are my thoughts:

Lessons learnt

Beauty is never isolated. It is not just about the shape of your eyes or the symmetry of your face. It is about what is considered acceptable.  It is a combination of other related factors such as social, financial, racial privileges. Someone who has features from another part of the world may be different therefore considered not good looking. People who have more money have access to fashion and cosmetology and end up looking the best possible versions of themselves.

When you HATE what you see in the mirror, nothing else matters much.  Most of the times you do not see what is truly there, but what others have told you about yourself.  You see your insecurities. For someone it is a big nose.  For someone it could a dark skin-tone.  For someone it is the weight. And it takes years, and years to become comfortable with it.  I used to pray regularly as a child, having studied in a convent school. The last wish in my prayers (after well-being and health of parents and sibling) was ‘God, please make me pretty!’ Like most kids, my prayer was memorized.   Even today, at 31, when I am distressed and start praying, this ‘wish’ repeats in my mind involuntarily in the sequence.

 When a lot of people find many different ways of telling you that you do not look good, you give up on your looks completely. You deliberately decide not to put in any effort.  Loose clothes, pony tail, no make-up- Beauty becomes a game one that we choose not to play. You cannot lose when you are not playing, can you?

Champa’s face haunts me still

We may have been treated badly. But that is no excuse for how we treat others. A lesson I learnt from Champa.  A lesson I would like to convey to young people. Hang in there. There are people who will see you for your inner beauty.  But first you need to see it.  Be kind to others. And yourself.  The people we like to talk to, hold on to ultimately are the ones who are pleasant and positive. We also need to become that person first.

A happy face looks beautiful and is a culmination of peace with self and others.

Author’s Note

This article has been written for a contest organized by Women’s Web for the Naturals Salon.

I believe every woman has TRUE BEAUTY within her in all the roles she plays. For over 18 years across 650 plus salons across the country, Naturals has been helping the Beautiful Indian Woman get more Beautiful.

Today Naturals Salutes the Beautiful Indian Woman.

Presenting Naturals TRUE BEAUTY… http://bit.ly/naturalsOF 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I Realised That The Festivities I Cribbed About Were About Celebration & Family

When I Realised That The Festivities I Cribbed About Were About Celebration & Family

When I was a kid I waited eagerly for festivals. More people in the house, pichkari, pathaka, new clothes, cousins, sweets, fun, laughter. What was not to like about it?

But as I grew up, I started hearing things which made me cringe..

Leave Everything And Vanish?

When I was about 14, I had watched a television series on Sony called Hubahu starring Sandhya Mridul. She played the role of identical twin sisters. One sister, Aditi lived in India. She was a homemaker married to a college professor with a son. She lived a boring, stable life. The other sister, Ananya was very glamourous. She lived in some foreign country. Wikipedia says Bangkok although I do not remember.. This sister is single, rich, has a luxurious lifestyle  and a wannabe boyfriend. The sister in India lives a stable live with her husband and kid. One day they both decide to switch places for a week. (They are identical).  Due to some unavoidable circumstances, they end up continuing in their switched lives for some more time. At the end, they realize they like their new life better. They end up continuing like that.

When I had watched this show at that age I had thought how could the woman with a family just leave everything. She had a husband! A kid! I had also found nothing with her life that was so bad that she just gave it up.  I was so judgmental…

Aditi used to wake up every morning with a jump as her alarm rang. She would rush to get her kid ready. The rest of the day would be lost in household work…Cribbing. Stressing. And cribbing some more. And stressing some more..

When I was studying in the U.S.,  in eighth grade or ninth grade, in one of the class discussions the teacher had asked what are some of the reasons for depression. One girl had raised her hand and said ‘monotony’.  No it was not those last few residual answers where all obvious answers such as loss of a loved one, loss of job, divorce, break-up was consumed. It was one of the first few answers.

“That’s right”, The teacher had replied. “Getting up every day, same time, same routine with nothing interesting to look forward to in life can be depressing for some people.”

I had found this very odd.  To me, it was not a valid cause. What else is everybody supposed to do every single day anyway, I had thought.  I guess I was too dumb…

I guess I wake up the same way as Aditi does.  Every morning with panic.  Thinking I have missed the alarm. I will be late to work.. I will get scolded…  The maid would have knocked on the door and left… I will have to do the work…I will be even more late to work…  And there is a deadline…Not only will I go to work late but leave from work late too… House work. And office work…

Maybe it is everybody’s fantasy to just leave our current life… Leave everything and vanish… Aditi just got the opportunity…

Image source

 

 

 

 

Movies, Music and Nostalgia…

I watched Gold yesterday. I wish I could review the movie….

I usually do not watch a night show during the week days because I have to get up early thanks to work. But yesterday, I ended up watching the night show as there was only one show in the nearby theater and the whole family had planned to go. With the trailers and the non-smoking advertisements, these night shows easily start by 10 pm.

At home, 10 pm is the time when I mercilessly switch off television, irrespective of how engaging our current Netflix show is, and tell my husband it is time to “shut down”.

This is followed by scrubbing the kitchen slabs and gas stove…

Anyway, coming back to yesterday, here I was at 10 pm daring to watch a night show along with my family.  During the first half of the movie, I tried unsuccessfully to keep my eyes open. From whatever little I managed to watch, Amit Sadh looked good, and I found Mouni Roy’s character annoying.

After interval, I was completely asleep. I even had a dream which involved the movie.  Now, I am even more confused as to what was part of the movie, and what was part of my dream. Hubby tried his best to keep me awake by pulling my leg every time Mouni appeared on screen – “This angry wife is just like you.” But in vain. I was too sleepy to even react to him. However, in between, I would wake up and ask him,

Who is in the semi final?”

“Did the final match start yet?” 

I sounded a lot like my grandmother who does not pay any attention to TV serials but keeps disturbing everybody else who is watching intently by asking what is going on.

By the end of the movie, blissfully asleep I had forgotten where I was.  When people started getting up for the national anthem, I tried to reach my tummy to remove my seat belt, thinking I am in a flight.  Then I woke up, realizing that I am in a theater.  This awareness that I was not in an aircraft  gave me a strange sense of satisfaction because I thought at least I don’t have to travel…

This incident reminded me of the first time I had fallen asleep in the theater as a kid. I am sure I would have fallen asleep as a baby many times but this is the first time that I could remember. It was a charity show of the movie, Maachis. My parents and sister had loved the movie and the “crowd”. Those were the days of single screen theatres and not multiplexes. Families took balcony seats. There would be whistling, screaming, dancing, clapping and what not going on in the front. But being a charity show, the tickets were very expensive. Being a small town, half of the town was present and my parents and sister had spent the time before the start of the movie in socializing with acquaintances / friends they were bumping into.

I don’t think I ever watched Maachis properly after growing up.  Whenever, somebody mentions Maachis, I have a very faint memory of lots of people waiting outside the cinema hall for the movie to start. But it is a good, uplifting feeling (contrary to the serious subject of the movie).

In a recent road trip to a hill station I kept playing songs from the 90’s like Latka dikha diya tumne, Muqabla, Taal se Taal mila etc. My niece was also traveling with me and in an attempt to match up to her I had downloaded some English songs too. Since I am not up to date with anything other than Bollywood, my list started with Shape of You, and ended with Cheap Thrills. Thankfully, she had requested me to download song new songs (which I had no idea about).

I realized that our generation still knows songs from the 60’s 70’s etc but the next generation does not know any songs from the 80’s,90’s.

But why did these songs make me so happy? 

Probably because of the way they make me feel…

It is the association with songs / movies that make us like them years later.

Associations. Memories. And the games our mind plays with them…

That was then. Gold for me will always be the first movie I watched after my wedding, in which I fell asleep!

 

A day Of Haircut With Salon Bullies!

I went to the beauty parlour yesterday to get a haircut. Just a haircut. Nothing more.  After calling five salons where the “senior stylist” and “creative consultants” were charging a bomb I decided to go to the salon I used to visit regularly. Now, I moved so this is quite far from my new place. Nonetheless, I thought I may go for a long drive with husband. This was theoretically a good idea as it was raining and hubby was playing nice 90’s songs on Bluetooth. Yes songs like Aafreen Aafreen, and Muqala Muqabla Laila o Laila make me very very happy.  Was happily singing alone those songs until I came across  this gentleman.

There is a motorcycle also tied on top of the roof of the car.  This person thinks  it is okay to drive like this on the highway in the rain.  Anyway, moving on…

So I reached the parlour. Now the stylist came to take a look at my hair. I told him I need a haircut.

“Madam, your hair has breakage.  Go for smoothening.

“I have already  got smoothening done twice!! My hair has become very thin! I don’t want smoothening!  See how much hairfall has happened! Just a haircut please”.

“Hair fall not because of smoothening Madam. You are not maintaining!”

“I am using the same professional shampoo and conditioner you made me buy last time.”

“Well madam, your smoothened hair is fine.  It is so smooth. It is your fresh hair that is growing that is curly.” He lifted a strand of my hair. Magically at that moment the end of the hair strand stood still, and the little hair he was holding pulled itself out obediently. “See Madam. Problem with your original hair growing back. Not with smoothened hair”.

“But if you smoothen you will smoothen the entire hair right?  You will not selectively smoothen the hair that has just started growing?”

Yes madam. It will all become smooth and silky”

“I don’t want smoothening. I want a haircut. Please do the best you can with it, some layers to create volume”.

“At least get hair spa madam.”

I got convinced for the hair spa. Now a different guy started doing the hair spa. He had overheard my conversation with the previous hair stylist.

Madam, which shampoo are you using?”

“Matrix”

“Which one?” He gave me two options. One started with Bio something.

“I don’t remember.  I usually buy the Orange one , if it is not available, white one”.

Madam, you should not buy the white one. It is for dandruff. You do not have dandruff.”

“These shampoos are not available in all supermarkets.  Whatever is available, I take”.

“White one is also good Madam.  But you should use this one.”

He picked up another bottle.  I looked at the price and told him I did not want it. So he decided to go back to convincing me on smoothening.

“There is an offer going on Madam. 50 percent off.”

“Even if you do it for free, I don’t want it.”

I guess that did it. He did not mention smoothening again.

“Madam your hair has become frizzy. You don’t use hair oil?”

“I do. Just did oil massage yesterday.” I replied proudly.

“Which one?”

“Parachute coconut oil.”

“Do you heat it?”

“I do not heat it.  But when I get a massage from a beautician, she usually heats it.”

“You should not heat it madam!”

“Actually you guys had told me to NEVER put oil after getting smoothening. But I still do.”

“That is right Madam. You should not use oil.”

I wanted to ask him why he asked me about oil in the first place, that too the brand and heating and minute details.

Now we were off to the hair cut.  The only thing I had asked him to do was to do a cut that would fake some volume.  Given my thin hair, this was quite a challenge. Nonetheless he did a decent job and was pleased with his work.

In an attempt to fool me, he backcombed my hair and lifted half of it in a puff while bringing the rest of it in the front from my side.  He told me how versatile my new hair cut was as I could try this hairdo too.

I wondered when  would I use this hairstyle…..Retro Bollywood party?

Then he removed the puff and put my hair back to normal.  He did a centre parting showing me the layers. He was happy with himself and said that it has added volume. I asked him to bring a mirror and show me from the back.

There was no hair in the back, because he had taken all the hair in the front to fake the volume! I looked at him. He took  the entire hair backwards to show me the shape from the back. Now I had no hair in the front. Just the first layer which was making me look like an ape.

He realized what he had done and moved the entire hair to the front again.

“Thank you” I said.

I was somewhat proud of myself for not getting convinced for a smoothening again. This was a day after refusing to get upper lip done.  Maybe I should start a fashion blog. But my blog will be about how to say no to makeup and hair bullies!!

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Awesome Fathers And Average Husbands

Some 25 years ago: Daily routine

The landline would ring sharp at 7 pm. I would run to the phone.

Me: Hello

Dad:  Hello!! Mummy se poocho kuch lana hai kya?

Me: Mummy Papa ka phone hai! Kuch lana hai!

Mom: Nahi.

Me yelling at the top of my voice even though  my mother would be at a very audible distance: Nahiii

Dad: Ok beta.

Me: Bye Papa. See you soon.

Sometimes my mom would take the phone and tell my dad what to bring. Most of the times he already knew what to get and the call was just a formality.  But he used to get something or the other. No I am not talking about groceries or necessary supplies. He would get doughnuts, pastries, cream rolls, all good things that would light up my face. Whenever he would come home from office I would run to him and cling like a monkey knowing that there would be some surprise for us.

And he continues to do that.  He would go for a walk and end up bringing jalebi and samosa for my mother. My sister is married now, and my niece will turn 10 soon. Still, dad continues to be the Santa Claus who will get us surprises – clothes, shoes, gadgets you name it.

My mother never has to answer that question, ‘Kuch lana hai?’

I remember I used to go to my best friend, Priyanka’shouse as a kid. Her father also was very affectionate like my father. Her mother would cook nice food for us and then Uncle would take us for ice-cream. Those days nobody kept ice cream at home because power cuts would ruin it all. Ice- cream parlous were not that popular yet in small towns. Some random shops like stationery shops kept ice -cream  as a side business! But the easiest way to get ice-cream was to just drive on the road until you find some hawker .

After having lunch at my friend’s place her dad would ask if we want anything more. My friend and I would giggle. I was too shy to ask because I was a well-mannered child and I knew that I cannot ask other people’s parents to buy me stuff. But Uncle also knew and my friend also knew and I also knew that our routine would not be complete without ice-cream. ‘Something is missing’, Uncle would say. Then he would take us both on his scooter until we would hear the familiar scream from a distance. “KAAWAALEETEEEEE”.

We never had to ask Uncle.

The same friend is married now. Before marriage she used to feel she had the best boyfriend. Now things are very different. She called me the other day.

“Tanvi! I ran out of salt yesterday! I asked Aditya to get it. He came back without it! He said he forgot!  When I told him, how will I  make dinner without salt, he said I always ask last minute. I should buy extra and keep. How much am I supposed to remember!! He can also keep track, right!”

“Yes. He can. He should!”

“What are you up to? Want to meet today?”

“Today I have to go buy running shoes! Papa has been saying that the ones I use are not good enough and will give me leg ache. Need more cushioning. I told him It is fine. He has done some research online and wants to buy that for me.”

“I am having back-pain since two months. Aditya keeps saying it is all in your head!! Everybody who works on laptop has back ache! Aise thode hi na hota hai!”

“Are I will come with you to the doctor. Book an appointment.”

“I know you will. But he should na! Remember when I had got sick in 5th grade? Daddy had taken me to three doctors just to rule out typhoid?”

“Haha! Yes I remember that. He wanted a third, fourth opinion!”

“That time we never thought na Tanvi, these things cost money. I used to tell Daddy why are you making me take all these tests again! ……..

Aditya would have said what is the need! These hospitals are a scam. Don’t waste money!”

“Aaj itna gussa kyun aa raha hai Aditya pe!”

“I don’t know why I am so angry. Just that you know… how Daddy used to care for us. We never realized then na….”

I had to cut the call soon. I went shopping and bought running shoes.  My dad also insisted that my mother buys new ones. Now unlike our generation which never has enough clothes my mother is someone who will always say she doesn’t need anything! She looked at the sneakers’ price and insisted that her current shoes are pretty good. My dad started explaining to her how she should buy  shoes which are good for her ankles . While he was trying to convince her and getting all technical about pressure etc, I paid which made my dad upset because he wanted to buy the shoes for me. He then bought two T shirts and track pants for me as he said there should be new clothes to go with the new shoes!

I came back home and called Priyanka. I knew she was upset. This time she didn’t say much. We both just talked about how much our dads care for us.  It is not just about spending money to buy us stuff. But about identifying a need – My daughter  needs this. Or maybe she doesn’t need it. But it would be better for her to have it. How can I make her life easier? How can I bring a smile to her face? How can I make her happy? Do husbands / boyfriends care so much? Maybe they do but sometimes they will weigh the cost. Or they are too lazy to drive. Or they feel we are adults anyway, and we want equality plus pampering! Plus we cannot cook like their moms! Yet we expect so much from them! How unfair.

Relax boyfriends / husbands. This is not something we talk about .

It is just a feeling.

 

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Who Took Away My Confidence?

Dear Tanvi,

Would you be interested in moderating a panel discussion? We would be discussing how women are enjoying outdoor spaces.

Me?

Moderating?

I felt a slight fluttering in my stomach. I drank some water.

____________________________________________

At the age of 5 – Somewhere in a convent school in Patna

Mother looks at her daughter’s quiz answer sheet. 8/10. Match the following.

Question – Something to keep you dry in the rain

Answer written by the little girl: Ren cot.

It is marked wrong.

Mother: Beta, here you had to match the description in the left side with the options on the right side. Rain coat was not in the options. It was umbrella.

Little girl: Ma’am forgot to put ren cot. That is why I wrote it.

Mother: This was not Fill in the blanks. This was matching. Read the question properly.

Little girl: Maybe Ma’am does not have ren cot. Now she knows.

At the age of 9 – Same school in Patna

State level debate competition

And the winner is Tanvi Sinha….

The mother and the father are beaming, clicking pictures.

At the age of 11 – Same school in Patna

Teacher: Tanvi, we are recommending your name for representing our school at the Interschool Quiz competition, Manthan. It will be aired on local television after two weeks.

Girl: Ma’am! On  TV! If I don’t do well, everyone will make fun of me!

Teacher: Opportunity is knocking at your door. And you are saying no? You think we are asking all the students? We are asking only the toppers. You must go Tanvi. Prepare well. Give it your best shot.

The girl was terrified at the thought of failing on television. She backed out.

At the age of 13 – Junior high school in New York City

The teenager raises her hand to answer a question. She has just started talking. There is a giggle. Someone mocks her accent.

Teacher: Let her talk. Than Vee, go ahead.

The teenager becomes quiet.

It was not worth going through this humiliation. She decided never to raise her hand again.

At the age of 15- PTA Meeting. Creative writing class. High school in New York city

The father is dressed in a black suit and tie. Mother is wearing trousers and a blazer. They are at their formal best. They enter with  their gawky teenage daughter.

Teacher: Oh Tanvi is a gift! She is awesome. She has great story telling skills. She is logical with her thoughts, and articulates her thoughts very well. Her grammar is perfect. I just have one area of improvement for her.

Teenager replies meekly with a smile: Class participation!

Teacher: Yes! I would like you to participate more in the class discussions. You never say a word! And when I read your assignments, I am mesmerized. Imagine if you would say all of that in class!

Teenager: Yes. I know. I can write very well. But when I talk I feel conscious.

Teacher: Don’t be. With your intelligence, you cannot say anything wrong.

At the age of 23 – Mumbai at home

Click here to see the CA Final Results. Enter Registration number.

FAIL

As tears streamed down her cheeks, she wondered.

I was never the beautiful one.

I was never the popular one.

All I was ever, was the intelligent one.

I am not even that anymore?

Who am I?

She passed the exam a year later.

At the age of 24.. At an official training. Banquet hall of a 5 star hotel

She is sitting in the last round table. She is not making any eye contact with the trainer, afraid he may ask a question.  At the same time she is nodding, pretending to listen.

This is so boring. He mugged up all this stuff! What if I had to be the trainer? Nah.. they would never ask me. Imagine if the training was about something I knew. Or something I was good at. Then I would be the star. But what am I  good at…… There has got to be something… Think…think. Yeah. Bollywood! If there was a Bollywood training I could totally take it… One session could be on songs. With a quiz. Guess the movie from the song. I could also do a session on Bollywood relationships. Guess – Who was Riya Sen’s grandmother…
Name three sister duos from Bollywood. Yeah… I would totally rock it.

Same age. A random office lunch

Someone made a joke. Everybody laughed. The woman barely listened. She is lost in her thoughts as always.

“Tanvi did not laugh.” – Guy 1.

“She did not understand the joke.” – Someone else

“Don’t talk like that. She will get angry.” – Someone else.

“Is she angry? I can’t tell! She is so expressionless!!! Tanvi make an angry face!”

He has a hearty laugh.

At the age of 26. She qualified as a CA 2 years ago. Working in a reputed firm. Year-end appraisal.

Four people are looking at her like hawks in a conference room. One by one they start talking. About how she has not achieved the goals. How she is good for nothing. How she is a big, miserable failure.

She listens. In the beginning she tries to defend herself. But then she gives up.  She wants them to stop talking. But no. They want to make sure it is CLEAR to her, point by point. Every word is a dagger. It pierces through her heart, her soul and her being.

Don’t start crying here. Be dignified. At least control yourself till you reach the washroom.

Present day.

Who took away her confidence?

Was it those bullying kids?

Was it failure in a professional exam which is known to be so difficult?

Was it people from work?

From a little girl who was confident even when she was wrong, she had grown up to be a nervous woman who felt she was wrong even when she was right. Who gave the right to every person to take away her confidence. Who trusted others’ belief of who she was, more than who she knew she was.

____________________________________________

She read the email again.

Dear Tanvi,

Would you be interested in moderating a panel discussion? We would be discussing how women are enjoying outdoor spaces

Opportunity is knocking at your door. She remembered her elementary school teacher’s words.

With your intelligence, you would never say anything wrong. She remembered her high school teacher’s words.

Yes. She typed. Send.

Beyond the doors. Bangalore. March 9th, 2018

I reached the venue. A little nervous. A little unsure of myself. But super excited.

A woman with the sweetest face and the most contagious smile was talking.  She was not trying to inspire anyone. She was talking logically. She was talking about herself and her experiences. Smooth, natural flow of thought. She was just being herself. But the audience was mesmerized. And so was I.

Somebody asked her how come she is so positive all the time? Does she think about dark clouds?

“Why should I think of the dark clouds when I can think about the light clouds. This is me!” – She said flashing that beautiful, confident, ravishing smile matter-of-factly.

She was Dhanya Ravi.

I was overwhelmed with emotion. That one line uplifted my spirits.

This is me…..

 I am Tanvi. I  get nervous when I have to speak in public. My stomach hurts. My palms get sweaty. I tremble. This is me!

I say Umm and You know after every word. This is me!

I will roll my tongue over my teeth, while I am still talking to you to check if my lipstick has spread over my teeth. This is me!

I may mess up this discussion. But it is okay. This is me!

I had a great session. Enjoyed every moment of it. Loved talking to such accomplished women. The smiles, the nods, and the claps from the audience gave me a high.

Who gave me back my confidence?

Dhanya Ma’am, you have written in your profile, ‘All good things come in a small package.”

But let me tell you this Ma’am. You are not small.

You are bigger that our insecurities and our egos.

You are bigger than our inner demons and inner battles that we struggle with every day.

You are bigger than our shallow concerns and problems which actually do not matter, but we are too full of ourselves to believe it.

You are bigger than all of us who love feeling like victims, the moment the smallest thing goes wrong in life.

You are bigger than the people who try to make others feel small just so that they can feel big.

You are bigger than any person I have ever met in my life.

I love you Ma’am. You have made me wiser. In one day!  I have gained my confidence back after years.  I promise myself that I will never let anybody take away my confidence again.

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