In my youth, having been endowed with thick long tresses , it was always my secret passion to have short bobbed hair which was just becoming a fashion in madras - yes I am so old I actually grew up in good old "Madras" not the fashionable yuppy chennai. Now there were two problems with cutting my hair - my family would have disowned me and thrown me out of the house, even worse I might have offended the sentiments of the orthodox family members - a girl putting scissors to her hair was surely an inauspicious sign. Anyway having entered college in 1974 I had to do something to prove that I was a rebel too and in tune with the times of the golden seventies. But not having the means to afford a parlour, I asked my sister to cut my hair and she happily obliged one saturday afternoon under the stairs. And for many days therafter I never heard the end of it - some relatives, particularly my elder brother, thought I looked like a monkey, my friends bemoaned the loss of such "beautiful" hair which they would have given an arm and a leg to have and of course my grandmother thought that it was a sure sign of Kaliyuga and all the bad things that were to mark the end of the world.
Have you noticed that people tell you how beautiful your hair was only after it is lost - as if they never noticed it all the time it was on your head?
Once I was married to a man who didnt notice if I was totally bald or had my hair matted like a sadhu in Kailash, my adventures with the hairdressers began. The thing about most of these girls in the parlours is that they never suggest what will look good on you but will ask you what you want. After several attempts at imitating the hair styles of Madhuri Dixit and Dimple Kapadia and Shridevi with totally disastrous results, one day I acquired the Gyan (under a hairdresser's shears) that to look like them the hair style wasnt enough, you needed a beautiful face to go along!
So now I needed someone who would tell me what would go with my face - so someone suggested this fancy coiffeur ( when said in in french it looks very fashionable right? ya , that means a hairdresser) in a fancy 5 star parlour who was supposed to have magic hands. So I put my hair in his hands literally and came out looking like a famous personality - Michael Jackson! I had to live with that look until my hair grew back and for a year I stayed away from all parlours although I had to suffer comments from my so-called friends if there was a lot of rat problem in my house ( very funny!).
Finally just as I had found the right cut that looked dignified , I stopped working and hence decided to avoid the problems of maintaining short hair ( ya the shorter the hair , the higher the maintenance, in order to maintain the style), I let it grow anywhichway it liked and loved the freedom. Just like many other realisations that occur to you in your 40s, I realised that I should have let my hair as it was in my teens and that life would have been more peaceful. Oh, but what is life without youthful follies!
But then life is never peaceful - not for the wicked cursed by their grandmothers in their youth for their rebellion.. So slowly the problems started with hair receding on the forehead, and my "rich" experience was beginning to show in a sudden acquisition of a silver crown. People started saying "you looked younger with short hair". In stead of telling them and myself, " I was actually younger then remember?!"I started believing them. So like an addict reverting to her old habit, I went back to the parlour today hoping things would have changed.
Guess what? Somethings never change.
The lady with the scissors asked me what I wanted!
The old fool that I am, I showed the picture of Maharani Gayatri Devi in a magazine advertisement for diamonds.
Was that a suppressed smile on the coiffeuse's face or did I imagine it?
25 Responses
  1. Haven't touched my hair or the scalp, depending on where one touched, in 5 years. I love my Einstein hairdo - no one can tell what's or not underneath, hehe :)

  2. Raj Says:

    A receding hairline is not something unusual, for a person of your age ( 250 years, by your own admission). So, relax.

    I read an interesting post on turtles and it says :

    “The liver, lungs and kidneys of a centenarian turtle are virtually indistinguishable from those of its teenage counterpart, a Ponce de Leonic quality that has inspired investigators to begin examining the turtle genome for novel longevity genes.”

    So, if you would like to have hair or forehead or a face like you did when you were in your teens, you have to turn turtle!

  3. Anonymous Says:


    It is widely understood, since I understand so, that folks who go go bald at the temple are sexier than folks who go bald at the crown. I'm not sure if this applies to a wider popuation outside of Sean Connery, but hey, this is the information age, what?


  4. Deeps Says:

    Your "hairy" adventures are nice :).

    I have had long hair since a long time and I don't really want to cut it into different hairstyles. I only have a front-cut that shows something of style ;-).

    My hubby loves my long hair, so I usually threaten to cut it off or dye it pink if I need anything badly ;-). But I think he had already realized that its a ploy :-D.

  5. see! and this is why I keep coming back to your blog- you speak for all of us and yet make it interesting and hilarious.. I have had my share of bad hair days too, anyway can't change the face now, the hair is still my only hope :) And no you are not old!

  6. Balaji Says:

    ha ha...

    Pls don't think that I am rude when I am having a laugh reading this post...

    I used to go to a particular barber when i was in college. I hardly bothered about my hair and I used to tell him, just cut in short and I got a gyan from the barber....

    "Hair is like a field. As long as the field is fertile. you can sow whatever you want. Once it becomes barren......"

    i will leave it there....

  7. Visithra Says:

    hehe oh dear im afraid of hairdressers - have had my share of bad experiences - i dont think anyone has figured out that mysterios hairstylist language

  8. passerby55 Says:

    "one day I acquired the Gyan (under a hairdresser's shears"...

    haha, Usha i too had the same gyan.

  9. why is it that everyone will praise a particular hair dresser and yet when you go to them - the results are sooooo bad? One of the unsolved mysteries of the universe....but your post was really enjoyable reading. Good stuff. reminded me of my hair cutting days too

  10. Akila Says:

    march 27th 12th std exams got over and I went straight to the parlour and got my waist long plaits cut.... much to the detest of dad...mum cudnt do much but play along...!!!!

    try sprat(some pseudo salon in bgl)..heard itz good:)!

  11. noon Says:

    Fun to read this post...could relate to it. I had nearly knee length thick hair myself for a long time. Same here - parents, friends everyone wouldn't even hear of me getting my hair cut short. Finally one day I begged and convinced my mom - not to say yes - but at least agree to not yell at me - and went and got my hair cut to waist length. When I finally I went to cut it really short - shoulder length - there was a very fashionable older woman from Dubai who had moved to the US for some other reason - she really refused to stay in the parlor and "watch it happen"! She literally walked out and junior finally cut my hair short! It was exciting - that first short cut!

  12. Chitra Says:

    No pics for this post? :)

  13. Artnavy Says:

    LOL!! I have always experimented with hair and suprise suprise- always liked every new look i have had

    my motto- GO TO THE "CHINESE " parlours- wangs/ chnags/ lee/ lius or the like- they will never fail you

    BTW posted pics of santushka

  14. Usha Says:

    The RF:Lucky you - in fact I remember the sociologist M.N.Sreenivas used to sport a similar look and everyone who saw him thought he looked very distinguished that way. I guess scientists and professors get away with any look!

    Raj:turn a turtle and carry my house everywhere on my back?no thank you. I'd rather look bald!

    S!: very comforting to be compared with Sean. What next? Omar shariff?

    Deeps:Or he could protest and say that he'd grow his hair long instead! how d you like that?

    Orchid: Nice to know I am not alone in my misery.

    Balaji: Please laugh, that makes me feel lighter about the situation.hehehe..

    Visi: ya, can you believe I have gone to the best of places paying huge money and still come out with horror stories. Thought something was wrong with me - this is comforting.

    STS:Exactly my question! please let me know if you ever find out the answer.

    Akila:You are lucky to belong to a generation for whom things have been made easier by us - the strugglers. hehehe.Sprat huh? will try, it can't get worse than this.So I don't mind experiments now.

    Noon:ah really? But do you ever regret losing all that hair?

    Chitra:Will put it up now.

    Art: You are either the kind of person who knows exactly what will look good on her OR you have a face that is so pretty that any change in hairstyle doesn't hurt the look.
    Which one is it?
    Will check out Santushka. :)

  15. Mahadevan Says:

    Those who have been with you and observing you continuously develop a mindset about your image and they would not be able to accept any change. That is the reason for the objections from the near and dear lines. Sensitiveness to society's attitude towards change, is another reason. Apart from looks, how comfortable one feels, needs to be also looked into.

    Agree with you that Maharani Gayathri Devi's short, thick gray hair is extremely graceful. This is again, a mindset. If Pritish Nandy and Cho are two finest baldies, both the Ravi Shankers and Sathya Saibaba have their own grace in their long flock.

  16. Somehow, I think a large section of males have more to worry about with regard to hair, which is more of an existential question - to have or not to have hair ? Of course, this is not an option that I can exercise, when I look at elder cousins and uncles, the future is bright to me - enjoy your hair while it lasts.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Hi.... first time here... came blog hopping from some others.....

    Lovely post there.... and you are right about short hair needing more maintainance!!!!! I also learnt it the hard way :P

    BTW i am blogrolling you..... hope you don't mind :)

  18. Anonymous Says:

    And as they say, grass is always greener on the other side.. cribs of today is nostalgia tomorrow.. :)

  19. Deeps Says:

    Nah, my hubby likes his hair very short. He shortens it to the point of baldness :-p. I'd actually like it if he'd grow it long :-D.

  20. Chitra Says:

    It looks really nice.

    PS: I meant pics for the post through the ages. :)

  21. Usha Says:

    Mahadevan:It always amazes me when people get away with hair in spikes and punk styles with hair dyed pink and green - but I cut it by an inch and people have adverse comments about it!

    Ashish: or wear every new look with dignity and acceptance!

    coffee: Thanks for blogrolling and the kind comments. Will visit you.

    deeps: :)

    Chitra:Oh that another horror story - my experiences with photo studios. will do a post on that when I have scanned the horrible photos.

  22. Hhahahaa... this one is one absolute beauty..
    Forget the year when u entered college, USha, I had to face all those when I cut my hair last year and mind you, that was the first ever time the sinned scissors touched my hair..
    and from then, till now, my hair has undergone so many changes that its unrecognizable now.. :)

    Btw, did u finally become like Gayatri Devi?

  23. Ha Ha Ha. Was in splits over this post of yours. Gayatri Devi took the cake! You are truly a treasure.

    Am in danger of getting fired as i have been grinning for quite some time (laffing out loud at this post)now at my pc. Hardly decorous work behaviour! But I can't wait to read the rest...

  24. Usha Says:

    JLT: If you were in splits reading it I wonder how you might have reacted if you had seen me straight out of these parlours every time....hehehe.

  25. Mals Says:

    Hi Usha..
    A similar thing happened to me when I was in my 11th...I asked my friend to cut my hair and my father didn't let me in for 4 hrs and didn't talk to me...I was litrally standing outside the house with tears.....Even today me and my father laugh at the incident