Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Notice anything different?

In a woman's life, her hair is extremely important. A good hair day unleashes a world of possibilities. A bad hair day means 'let's stay at home - preferably wearing a hat'. Compliments about her hair make her glow and blush - she feels two inches taller when her hair looks great - and small changes in her hair make a world of difference to her mood.

To a man, or at least, the men I met when I was growing up ( meaning, till yesterday), their view on hair can be summarized as 'Mine is short and I like it that way. Your hair is long and I like it that way. I will get my hair cut every month. You don't ever cut yours, though. Okay?'

My hair is mid length and dark brown with an annoying wave. My hair experimentation started in college a few years back - I colored it 'Dark Copper' and it became a strange shade of Red, I was called 'Lal-baal' for a year. But that's after I pointed out the change to my male friends. My female friends had picked up the change immediately and squealed with delight; my male friends took a long hard look and said 'But it was always this color, no? Brown only.'

A year later, as my hair grew out, I got annoyed with the half brown-half red effect and decided to color it all Deep Black. Again, my female friends and associates all exclaimed how different and nice and elegant it was looking. My male friends took a long hard look and said 'But it was always this color, no? Black only.'

The next year, I thought, enough of coloring, let's just straighten out this messy wave and go for Rebonding (Straightening, for the men reading this) . I happened to be in China at the time and found a street parlor which did a fabulous job for pretty cheap - unfortunately because they weren't used to the strange behaviour of Indian hair, they had to keep their shop open for an extra two hours to do just my hair through repeated applications of their products. The result was great, I loved it; My female friends went 'Wow!'. My male friends said 'Huh? You paid Rs. 2 thousand? For what, yaar? Your hair looks the same. Straight only.'

The really annoying part came a year later. After I got tired of the super-straight look and decided it was time to go back to the original natural, wavy look that I had grown up with -I painstakingly grew it all out and then chopped off the straight bits. It took a while, but I was finally happy and felt like my old self again. My female friends appreciated it; and my male friends said 'Hey! What happened to your hair? It was NEVER like this! Why's it all curly and stuff?'

I later figured I needed some style quotient to go with the natural look. What better than highlighting this time? I argued with my stylist about red streaks but he insisted that those were were darker skin tones than mine and I could 'carry off' blonde highlights well. I grumbled and mumbled 'But who wants to, anyway', but he had mixed the colors and started already, with the casual disregard for the customer that is the hallmark of any successful stylist.

The effect was reasonably striking. My female colleagues said it was very trendy and cool. But my husband looked at me with a mixture of fear and awe - pretended to like them at first and then later blurted out that in a certain light, 'They look almost white' and make me look 'older'. He has been unsuccesfully trying to back-track on the statement ever since but the damage was done. It's only my prior experience with the boorish nature of men when it comes to hair that led me to take the remark good-naturedly (Well, we're at least still married, aren't we? Let's not push it).

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of my friends, Gaurav, had evolved into a metrosexual male. He spotted me across the road while waiting for me in a Taxi. He immediately picked up on the latest set of changes and said 'Hey, Lal! It's looking super cool, yaar! Where did you get it done?'. He liked the highlights, he liked the waviness, he liked the shorter cut. But it was later, when he was deeply engrossed in saying 'You know, I have finally found the perfect conditioner that doesn't make my hair feel all stripped off moisture after a shampoo', that I began to have my doubts.

This just wasn't right. A guy was supposed to look dumbly around and say 'Huh? Your hair looks the same. I don't know why you waste your money. I get my hair cut for Rs. 30'. And a part of me actually preferred it that way. At least, they were being their stupid, honest selves -clearly, the females had been lying all along, and I always knew that too. I began to look at Gaurav askance - he was the aberration - it's just that it was strangely disconcerting to hear him speak passionately about a conditioner and I just didn't like it. Let the men be men and let the women be women, I say.

Just to let you know, I usually dislike stereotypes, but I think they just make life more comfortable. Or perhaps, to end with another stereotype- maybe women are just never satisfied....

Or possibly, it's just me.

Friday, January 5, 2007

It All Began with Nursery Rhymes

Remember when we were but little children? Going to school in our cute little uniforms? Ah, those were the days...

Or were they? Were they perhaps, instead, when the evil was seeded?

After all, was this not the exact time when our young, impressionable minds were bent out of shape through the well-disguised evil of: Nursery Rhymes.

Oh, yes. Have you ever really thought about it?

'Rock a bye, Baby,
On the Tree Top,
When the wind blows,
The cradle will Rock,
When the Bough breaks,
The cradle will Fall
And Down will come Baby
Cradle, and all'.

Hellooo? Has anybody noticed they are talking about babies falling from tree tops? What kind of a mother would put the baby on the tree top anyway? What's the point? Is it a poorly disguised threat?

'If you're a bad baby, I will put you on the tree top ....ha ha ha ha ha ha (diabolical laughter)'.

This rhyme disturbed me a lot in my formative years. But then there was the short but ominous:

Jack, be Nimble
Jack, be Quick
Jack, Jump over
The Candlestick.

Why? Why should Jack be asked to jump over a candlestick? How tall was the candlestick in relation to Jack? Why would anyone want an innocent little boy to undertake such a dangerous task? There is an implicit 'Or' at the end of this rhyme. Jump over the Candlestick...OR...an equally dangerous torture task will be assigned to you, perhaps even less pleasant. And was this the same Jack, who was also Little Jack Horner, who sat in a corner? Was he put in the corner because he didn't jump properly over the candlestick?

It goes:

Little Jack Horner, Sat in a corner,
Eating a mincemeat pie.
He stuck in his thumb, And pulled out a plum,
And said, "What a good boy am I!"

Apparently, if Jack was being punished, he didn't know it - he thought he was a good boy. But he was obviously dumb - just like the load of us, who unthinkingly and unquestioningly chanted these nursery rhymes. Can you imagine having a plum put in your mincemeat pie? And eating it with your thumb because you weren't even given a spoon? Yuckk! These characters were so ill-treated, and didn't even know it.

Jack in particularly, was a victim throughout his life. Leave us not forget:

Jack and Jill
Went up the hill...etc.

He broke his crown that time! And just because we thought as kids that his 'crown' meant he was a prince, and probably spoilt and would anyway get another crown to replace the one he broke on the hill, this doesn't take away from the fact that the Crown in question was actually a part of his head! Such violence!

Might as well make us all watch Bart Simpson's antics from the age of 2. Anyway, Jack got what was coming to him in later life. He was quite Jacked, so to speak.

Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean,
And so betwixt the two of them
They licked the platter clean

So, Jack was obviously a poor, thin guy with a dominating fat, wife who sat on him, and made him change his name from Horner to Sprat; and they were so poor they had to lick the platter clean.

Jack met his end in Nursery Rhymes with a really passive mention in the never ending 'This is the house that Jack built'. There is no personal mention of Jack in this rhyme apart from the fact that he built a house. He obviously had no personality, no sense of self, after a clearly traumatic childhood.

I know I should stop now, but I'm really in the flow.

So , guys, guys, remember Little Miss Muffet, who sat on a Tuffet? What's a Tuffet, you wonder today, but did you think to ask when you were three? A tuffet is a low stool, which housed the bum of Little Miss Muffet, who was eating Curds and Whey ( I don't care what Whey is, okay?), before this really nasty, icky, large spider came and grossed her out, causing her to flee the scene - and in all probability, subsequently lose her lunch of Curds and Whey.

Why did they do this to us? Why? We were disappointed enough to learn about London Bridge falling down, and also that poor, unfortunate Little Bo Peep had lost her sheep. But the ultimate in creepy rhymes was the story of poor demented Mother Hubbard, and her pschyo Dog. Check this horror out, in case you've forgotten:

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To fetch her poor dog a bone;
But when she came there
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

(Till now, you feel sorry for both M.Hubb and Dog)

She took a clean dish
To get him some tripe;
But when she came back
He was smoking a pipe.
She went to the grocer's
To buy him some fruit;
But when she came back
He was playing the flute.

(You're like: Dog, what the hell are you doing to that old lady? Stop playing with her mind!)

She went to the baker's
To buy him some bread;
But when she came back
The poor dog was dead.

(You gasp sorrowfully! You had misjudged the poor dog! Never speak ill of the dead)

She went to the undertaker's
To buy him a coffin;
But when she came back
The poor dog was laughing.

(By now, you're like: Hey, you dog! What's your game? Leave that old lady alone..)

She went to the hatter's
To buy him a hat;
But when she came back
He was feeding the cat.
The dame made a curtsey,
The dog made a bow;
The dame said, "Your servant."
The dog said, "Bow wow!"

(So now, you're like: Screw the lady, screw the dog, where did the bloody cat come from anyway? They're all nuts!!).

Now, I know I'm taking this too far, but what the heck! How can I not mention the Three Blind Mice and the sadistic Farmer's wife?

Three blind mice,
See how they run!
They all ran after a farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice?

Am I supposed to be delighted by this gory picture? Is it supposed to help me sleep better at night? I think NOT.

You think I'm imagining this, folks? Let me now tell you the mother of all conspiracies.

When you are small, they teach you the following three, seemingly innocuous and unconnected rhymes - We've all learnt them by heart.

- Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star....
- A, B, C, D, E, F, Geeee...
- Baa, Baa, Black Sheep....

How long was it before you realised your mind was being played around with, yet again? The TUNES are all the SAME. It's ONE TUNE, for three rhymes. Not feeling so smart about mugging them up now, are we? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha....

(Psychotic laughter fading into the night....

Sweet Dreams, childrens....

Ha ha ha ha ha ha...)