December 24, 2017
I was at the barbers last week - the barber or stylist (just being politically correct, never know when one will get into trouble in our country anymore), whom I regularly go to, smiled, greeted me and made me sit on the chair. An unusually cheerful person, the stylist seemed a bit bogged down when he saw my rapidly receding hairline. He smiled and even suggested to me that the next time I visit, he will have no option but to use the machine all over my head as it would take more time to find hair on my head and then cut those using scissors. I agreed with a hearty laugh.
As the stylist got busy finding hair on my head, I got busy looking at the million mirrors in front and behind me. All I could see was a nice round Kiwi fruit. Yes, I was finally there. At 33, I finally had a nice shiny scalp with a bit of hair scattered around.
Being bald is considered a social stigma - young men dread being bald. They are always sympathized and looked down in college, university, at family gatherings. Advice about oil, pastes, weaving, wigs and many more things come from everyone. Well, I remember once incident where I was duped of a good amount of money by a total stranger. I was walking on an overcrowded street in the city to collect my wedding suit. I can’t stress more on the irony of this incident. Here I was, having overcome all the hurdles of being bald and yet finding the love of my life- my wife, I got duped by a petty thief who just with one look at my head, judged me quite well. Inside his head, he saw a fool who would do anything to get some hair on his crown. Little did he know he was in for a bounty? He started with sympathizing with me by emphasizing on the fact that I was so young and yet losing hair. This was enough to entice me. First we went to a general store and bought a bottle of normal hair oil, then we (rather he did it deliberately) into the maze of that part of the town and finally reached an Ayurveda shop. He asked his accomplice to mix all the jadibhootis into the cheap coconut oil bottle and the final package came up to an astounding INR 15,000. The money I had saved up for the wedding suit was now spent on hair oil. I am sure my dad has a Royal Salute, cheaper than this bottle of coconut oil at home. There was a tiny bit of light at the end of the tunnel, where I thought, I could still have my long thick hair of yesteryear. I did as I was told - Apply oil in the night and wash the overflowing hair in the morning. I even did it religiously for a few days, when I realized, I just had to cut down a day or two from my honeymoon budget. Nevertheless, I stored the bottle for a few years before I dumped into the stream in front of my house.
I know people who have spent thousands of rupees to get hair transplanted, implanted and weaved onto their scalps just to avoid the stigma attached around it. There is a classic cycle where one goes through absolute denial of balding, then tries ways to hide it, and finally after being duped by a stranger, cares a damn for it. You know who I am talking about. I used to earlier blame my receding hairline on many things - Chennai water, weather conditions, and also the global warming. It took me a visit to the salon, where things fell into perspective. The guy at the salon told me that I had a perfect head for a bald look. No one had put my baldness into perspective this well earlier. For the next three years straight, I looked like Bruce Willis – probably the malnourished version of him.
It is all in the head - literally. There may not be anything over your head, but the stigmata around baldness is all in one’s head. The more one thinks about it, the more strands fall off. There are many who have made millions by building business empires around baldness. I still wonder how Dr Batra's Clinic know I am bald, when I haven’t even registered myself with them. There are bald men who have got PhD’s in baldness and in it is astonishing to know the kind of medical terms related to baldness.
Well, the advantages of being bald are plenty and so are the disadvantages. To begin with most bald men need not worry about shampoo and washing the irritable hair. By the time I am 50, I should have the money recovered from that ghastly basket who duped me of INR 15,000. A quick run over the barren land, during the morning brushing activity should be good enough to keep the area clean for a long time, whereas dandruff can be a constant worry as the crown with dandruff looks like a chunk of meat which is just kept out for defrosting, with scales falling all over the place and no place to hide. Often, my thinning head attracts a lot of flies and mosquitoes which is annoying.
Nowadays my son considers my head as a drum. The joy on his face, when he bangs my poor head, rattling the tiny brain inside, is priceless though. I would go bald any day to listen to his faint giggles as long as he doesn’t take this habit seriously. I am also immune to the thoughts of avoiding graying hair in future- a thought which worries many people. One of the biggest con of being bald is photographs and how you look in them, not considering the excessive complaining of the photographer about the glare. Then there is always that aunt who sees the family photo and says “Haah, a little bit more hair on that head and this photograph would have been perfect”. To hell with her.
As mentioned earlier, baldness gives one a macho look, barring a few unlucky ones like me. Most boys dread being bald for the same reason. The look and the sympathy it creates with others. There are many guys I know, who are scared to meet girls suggested by match makers for a simple reason of difference in the photo which the mother uploaded and their current state of the crown. Why upload a wrong photo in the first place? But there is a valid reason and you know it.
I think mocking the bald is a just like body shaming, after all , hair is a part of the body or was a part once upon a time. Well, as mentioned earlier, it is all in the head and after an initial setback, a real bald man gets over it. To all the bald men out there, cheers and to all the balding men out there- get over fretting and enjoy the benefits ?
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