Have you heard Delhiites say the words, ‘Hair’, ‘Here’ and ‘There’? If you are born and brought up in one of the posh Delhi schools where you were never punished for mispronunciation, then chances are that you pronounce all the words in the same way, they all sound and rhyme with ‘hair’! Anyway, that was just an piece of trivia about Delhi that I am sharing and it has nothing to do with my ‘hairy’ tales. I just had to use these words for the title of this piece and that is just about it! 😉
My mother always told me stories of how she knotted a huge bun, something like the beautiful ones Hema Malini and Sharmila Tagore wore in the 60’s and 70’s. She tells me that she had such lovely and thick hair that it was very difficult for her to tie her hair all by herself. To reduce the weight on her head she’d sneak in her scissors and chop off her hair from inside. You see, she was a very pretty girl and my grandparents didn’t allow her to visit beauty parlours, there were only a handful then anyway. So, snip, snip, snip she would clip her locks and tie her hair up again. There is a funny story that runs in the family. Once at a family wedding, Maa turned up a little late because she took time to dress up. My Mama, her brother saw her enter the hall from a distance and she asked my maasi if he knew that beautiful girl who just entered. Mimi looked up at Maa and then turned to smile at their older brother, “That’s your own sister, Dada!”
To think of it I think I did inherit her genes and part of my luscious manes as a young girl came from her. But then I wasn’t destined to sport lovely hair all my life. I remember having a beautiful crop of hair on my head. Maa taught me to tie my hair every night and sleep and we went buying colourful ribbons from the market. I was religious about my weekly oiling sessions and those were still the days when Sundays were reserved for shampoos. I remember appearing for my first Bharatnatyam examination in a boy cut with a thin plait of false hair carefully clipped to the bottom of my hair. I looked ridiculous, and though Maa insisted I get my pictures clicked in a studio, that day I decided that I’d grow my own hair.
My mother was paranoid about lice, part of it was because she believed that every Convent educated girl bit her nails and carried lice in her hair. As a child I remember her washing my hair with Medikar every now and then. She’d comb my hair straight and I turned to look if the lice did really fall like they showed in the ad! By the time I was in the 9th standard, I remember there was one time when my head itched more than usual. I was too busy with life then to ask Maa to peep into my head. I found that practice too disgusting anyway.
The day was August 28th, 1996. The parent teacher meeting that morning didn’t go too well. I left my father waiting at the queue outside my classroom to run down to the portico to meet a few friends. By the time I remembered it was too late. Baba had already met the teacher, got my report card, noticed the slight dip in marks, complained to my teacher about my extra curricular activities and stormed out of the room in a rage! His foul mood swept me away and all the way home I was shouted at. How could he scold me? We reached home, I ran into my room, closed the door and threw myself on the bed.
“No, telephone for her. Make sure she doesn’t get near the phone!” he told my mother.
I howled for good twenty minutes while Maa and Mimi (maasi) banged the door to get me out. Soon their banging began to fade and I in fear that I would lose the chance of winning their favour for having cried so long, got up and opened the door. The ultimate drama queen that I was, I walked back to my bed, took up old position and sobbed softly. Mimi came in to the room and stroked my back first and then sat down close to me. She stroked my head and then removed the hair that had fallen on my face…and…there…
…she spotted a lice walking on my cheek as if on a beach!
The report card was forgotten. My father’s scolding too. My grades were a thing of the past. And my thirty minute long tearful drama was washed out. Maa and Mimi descended upon me for a fresh bout! They made me sit out under the sun, pulled and tugged my hair, scrapped my scalp, poked me endlessly and made the rest of my day rather miserable with their rant! It seemed that an entire colony of lice was breeding on my head. At that moment I really wanted to run away. In their fury, they searched each other’s heads and took it upon themselves to get the pests under their control. Out came ‘Baygone Spray’ and the obnoxiously smelling pesticide was dabbed on my scalp! Maa and Mimi’s search on their own heads turned up clean results, but what the hell, they dabbed baygone spray on their scalps too!
Needless to say what happened after that. The deadly pests never returned and my hair lost its flourishing, fertile land. The crop thereafter lacked the lustre and strength. My hair was left brittle, dry and messy. To make matters worse, dandruff that until then would show up closer to the weekend, refused to leave my pate. The white, dry and ugly flakes made my hair their own home and continued to live.
I tried to arrest the dandruff with alternate day head baths. For the hairfall I tried all the oils and shampoos recommended in ads and newspapers. I consoled myself that a 100 stands loss per day is fine, but the truth was that I was perhaps losing more than 500 everyday. A point came when I was scared to brush my hair. I started keeping it short, closer to my shoulders and shifted my parting to hide the ugly balding at the centre of my head. I tried everything. But nothing changed anything about my hair!
Until, I got pregnant!
I think and almost everyone vouches for the fact that I never looked prettier in my life than the time when I was pregnant. Perfect skin, perfect hair, all my problems seemed to have gone. Perhaps due to the relaxed state of mind and healthy eating after years of neglect dandruff said good bye. All the healthy calcium for my bones finally put a stop to my hair fall…and that was the end of my hair problems.
Ten months after my son’s birth, my skin shows signs of ageing, but my hair is still beautiful. The dandruff hasn’t returned to make a permanent home, but yes I switched to using Dove’s Damage Therapy Dandruff Care Shampoo, to keep my hair clean. The hair fall is limited to just a few strands everyday, enough to be counted on my fingertips. My hair still isn’t what I always wanted to me, but I know if all goes well I’d get there in the next few months.
These pictures (taken in 2007) are from a time when my hair was at its worst. I as a rookie TV reporter got the chance to do a story on a special hair treatment that had just come into India. These outstanding pictures were clicked by a former colleague and outstanding photographer.
What a story of my hair…here and there…oh, say them all together, like a Delhiite will you! That’s where all the fun is. 🙂
If you are interested, check out the Dove App.