October 21, 2004


Once a year, people pay taxes. Once a year, birds take up holiday packages and migrate. Once a year, I get my hair cut.
Today is that day of the year. I oiled my hair with industrial lubricant (oiling also happens once a year), and marched off to one of the “beauty parlours” near my place. One wash and cut, please.
There was some coconut-breaking and flower-sprinkling as my divine footprints graced the place I rarely deign to visit.
First up, the wash. Conducted in a chair that I will call the spondilytis-inducing torture-contraption. Three shampoo and rinse routines later, I was pretty sure I had little hair and no spinal cord left.
Then the cut. The owner of the parlour cut my hair herself. Four of her assistants stood in a silently reverential semicircle around us. Two minutes into the cutting, I felt like a patient on the operating table with a master surgeon taking a lesson in all vital organs-removalectomy. I begged for the radio to be switched on.
“You or We”, she asked. I wondered if I had dozed off and she had asked me to edit a sentence in the meantime. “Eh?” was my lucid reply. “U-cut or V-cut????” she asked. “You cut”, I said. Why should “we” cut? I am the one paying!
My hair has not been pulled, twisted, and pinned with such sadistic force in a year. My eyes popped out when the parlour lady asked why my hair was falling. “Because you are determined to yank it all out with your vice-grip and don’t tell me you were NOT grinding your teeth when you pulled the last time, you horrid freak”, my heart said. “Because of the weather”, my tongue mumbled.
In the history of haircutting, it is a noteworthy fact that the electricity goes off five minutes before my hair is due for blow-drying. I then walk out with wet hair, and a promise from the parlour that they owe me a drying. Last year’s is still due. I’ll have to grow another head to encash them both this time.The electricity is back. I am off to get my hair curled bimbo-style. If you hear someone singing “I’m a Barbie girl” maliciously, you know it’s me.

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