Sunday, October 09, 2005

I Am Beautifully Challenged.

It is one of the places where I spend the least time and money. It is one of the places that makes me feel as estranged as a student of history would feel in a class of bosons and fermions. No wonder, all I do is stupidly gawk at the people in amazement whenever I go there.

It is a Beauty Parlor.

As far as beauty awareness goes, the world has already entered the jet age while I am still marveling at the usefulness of the bullock cart. We fortunately have a dressing table at home. And every time I try on some make up, my mind gets discombobulated amidst the bottles of creams and lotions and face packs. I would not know one bottle from another. My mom and grand mom and my little sister know a hundred times more than I do.

Okay, I do have a fetish for soaps and shampoos. I wash my face and brush my teeth twice a day. I comb my hair and apply a little bit of liner under the eyes, not to mention some lip gloss. I even know the names of some internationally famous brands. But when it comes down to powders and lotions and mudpacks and lipsticks, I feel as lost as I would probably if I were on the moon.

I was recently at one such place, ready to get a new hair style. Not that the length of my hair would allow much scope for a variety of coiffure. And given the mad rush for the pujas, I could not even make an appointment the first day. So they asked me to come back the next day early in the morning. And here I thought that appointments were made only before meeting the CEOs.

Reluctantly, I went there the next morning. I was made to wait for almost an hour, since a huge crowd already needed to be attended to. So for 60 minutes, I waited there, trying to take in the flurry of activities going on besides me.

Two women as old as my grandma were half lying with some yellow face pack and slices of cucumber on their eyes. And for all the time I stayed, they remained that way, reminding me of Egyptian mummies.

A woman with waist length hair was having something like curd applied to her hair. It is later on that I learnt she was coloring her hair. And she was not coloring it white. It is the usual color of the paste.

In between, a young lady breezed in and asked, “Phesial ka kitna charge?” And her mom asked, “Hair color ka kitna aur henna ka kitna?” (Hair color ka Rs.1,000 and henna ka Rs.250). And just when I thought she was ready to make an about turn and never come back again, she agreed to color her hair. Half an hour later, I saw her sitting on a chair with 3 women attending to her; one at her feet immersed in scented water, revealing hairy calves, one filing her finger nails, and one attending to her hair. The daughter was besides her with the “phesial” stuff. Man, what a sight !

In the meantime, my turn finally came. The lady wrapped me with a dozen plastic sheets and asked me, “Kya karna hai? Hair highlighting? Henna? Facial? Manicure?”

I looked at my neat nails, my simple hands still sans those 8 diamonds, and said, “Just give me a simple, neat hair cut. I do not want the tresses falling on my eyes”.

She looked as if she had seen a ghost. It took her a good 10 minutes to give me what I needed. And all the while, she was like, yeh kijiye na, woh kijiye na, yeh lagaiye na, apne eyebrows thread kijiye na !

For the first time in 24 years, she made me thread my eyebrows. It hurt like hell, probably like the way it did when I broke my leg or had that wisdom tooth pulled out. So much for wisdom! She kept on hurting me, paining me, and she kept on urging me not to move. What did she think, was I a pachyderm not to feel the pain?

So that was 5 more minutes. And this makes it 10+5=15 minutes of grooming up. Just a 15 minutes compared to hours women spend at the beauty parlors. And she charged me some 143 rupees (all taxes included) for a 15 minutes job and an hour’s wait. No hair colors, no mud packs on the face and cucumbers on the eyes. Just a simple hair cut and a painful eyebrow thread.

After looking at me, mom said I looked like my cousin Oishi, a three and a half year old kid.

On my way back, I thought about how the world has progressed while I am still lagging behind. With these thoughts, I fiddled with my purse for some money for the bus fare. And there, I found a paper the lady at the beauty parlor had thrust in my hands with the cash receipt.

“10% discount on all services including bridal make up and hair coloring. Offer valid till 31st December.”

Well, I am not getting married this year. And I am not coloring my hair either. So maybe, I will not need those offers after all.

I rolled those papers into balls and threw them out of the window.

And till date, my eyebrows hurt.

Maybe I am one of those “beautifully challenged” people.



Kapil said...

Im sure u r exaggerating..?!
But then a beautiful girl will look beautiful w/o any makeup i guess..??!

Abhi said...

Hilarious post.I had to hold on to the computer table to avoid falling off laughing.But tujhse mujh masoom ki 2 pal ki khushi dekhi nahi jaati ?

In all these funny and mast lines ,u had to put in a blood freezing phrase - simple hands still sans those 8 diamonds..

Kris said...

Now your writings are getting self centered as compared to the earlier ones which had a global appeal i.e. everyone could identify with them.

Why dont you write some of those stuff along with your personal memoirs??

But its your blog was just a suggestion !

sunshine said...

kapil....Am I exaggerating? How do you know?

abhinav....why does your blood freeze or boil in anger every time i write about those 8 diamonds? I thought you would have felt happy giving your friend something that makes her happy, even if you had to sell off your land and bunglow and mercedes and your penthouse in juhu for it.

krishan...I understand your predicament. Ofcourse you can never identify yourself with a beautiful girl grooming herself up in the beauty parlor. Nevertheless, that remains an established truth that girls do want to look good and do go to beauty parlors. And in most of my posts, I usually describe a personal experience. Ab what can be done about it?

strangequark said...

well...what in insight into the beauty
parlour. rather what a painfull insight.
143 for haircut, 1000/- for hair color, hey whatever happenned to those ads comming on TV, home color at home, for what 100/- or 200/- ??

hmm..well If all that seems to beautify ......creatures....
somehow somewhere inside me says(plz don't ask what part(s), i have no idea )...its worth it sometimes :D

sunshine said...

strangequark....beautification is serious business these days. And people go to any extent and spend any amount to look good. I still visit a seemingly middle class beauty parlor. The outlets at Habib's charge anything between 800-2000Rs. for a hair cut in a less expensive place like Kolkata. And they are running successfully. Sometimes given the consumer market here, I am left to wonder if India is a third world country after all.