The heat is on

Saturday started off in Pali and ended up at Bonobo later for Mad Boy Mink. I entered just as MBM was hitting the stage. I liked the set a lot, bopping my head to the Looney-Tooney vibe of their hip-hop mixed songs. It was a weird crowd–nights out can be trippy if not approached with a certain amount of realization. I looked around to see a conservative-looking Indian woman in a full-on bordered silk sari, hair braided and all. She couldn’t have just come from a wedding, her outfit wasn’t jazzy enough. I see a group of hysterical white girls in the corner. Tall foreigners stood out.  I continue to scope the room when R and I see a man wearing a skirt. Not a dhotti, a girl’s skirt. Confused, we caught man-skirt’s attention and he bustled over to us. R was convinced this man lost a bet and had to succumb to the evils of his fulfilling said bet by wearing a skirt. But this was his own doing: he was throwing a hen party for his girl friend and he was collecting bad advice from girls and lipstick kisses from men. He wanted us to participate in his bachlorette-party games and so we did. We chose from a stack of cards for topic prompts and the boys generously applied red lipstick to their faces. Like I said, weird night. I failed to remember Bonobo was an outdoor bar and the 87 degree weather with 200 %  humidity was slowly killing me. The label on my Bud slipped off. Even my glue had given up. Nothing was going to last in this humidity myself included. I called the driver, we headed downstairs and all I could think was ‘thank god for air-condition and I can’t wait to shower.’

Today was the Flea Market–A company called Lil Flea was hosting a 2-day Flea Market on the grounds opposite Lilavati Hospital this weekend. My initial though upon hearing about the market? ‘You’ve been to one Flea Market, you’ve been to them all.” In a way, this is true. But I needed something to do this afternoon and it was an easy way to spend some money. I didn’t over-think, which usually happens when I plan to go to any festival/market/push-and-shove type atmosphere. I stood in a short line for no more than 2 mins before I entered. The grounds weren’t decorated in any ornate way but it was cool to see this sort of thing happening in the middle of Bombay. Sometimes I take certain things for granted living in Bombay–there are so many expats, so much access to foreigner goods and materials, and things like boozy brunches, brie, and gluten-free/vegan/kosher/ stuff happening here that its hard to believe your in India! I know for sure other parts of India have no clue what gluten-free means or that they can even pronounce kosher. I don’t blame them either. Being in Bombay is unlike being in any other part of India–it’s hip, open to new ideas, and always ready for the next big fad. I snatched up kitschy bags and scarves (my weakness), chatted up the Berlin-based brand owners and headed home.

My recent adventures with shopping have led me to discover just how out of touch I am with Eastern Fashion–I’m talking Indian clothes, people. I’ve been on the lookout for a nice Indian outfit for my friend’s wedding next month. I didn’t realize until yesterday how much I abhor shopping for Indian clothes. It’s manic. stressful. overwhelming. tiring. and expensive. I can’t remember wearing an Indian outfit more than twice over before it maintains permanent residence on my clothes hanger. We women try to justify it, saying we will ‘put it too good use’, promising ourselves and others that ‘that outfit WILL be WORN’. Lies. It’s also because I don’t like wearing Indian clothes. I don’t mind a salwar/kurta (basically a long dressy tunic with leggings and an optional scarf to drape over it). But I would take a blazer or shift dress any day. Indian fashion changes faster than it takes to get to Chembur to Colaba on a Wednesday afternoon. I bought fabric from Kari’s store that I could get an outfit stitched (fancy, I know, but custom-made clothes are very common). She took me to meet her tailor which felt like a spy mission. Her words: ‘Good tailors are top-secret info. You never share you’re tailor’s number with anyone!’ Adorable. We walked through the gully, into the tailor’s, also named Kari, shop. As the master-ji took my measurements and we decided how I wanted the outfit to be cut, Kari was quick to call me out on my fashion ignorance. ‘Oh no no no no’, she exclaimed. ‘Short kurtas are out. Long kurta’s are in. No one wear’s short kurtas anymore, didn’t you know?!’ Clearly, I did not. I let her take the wheel on the stylistic nuances of my outfit (not forgetting to add my 2 cents of course: cut the shoulder width, make me look skinny!). I searched for an outfit for my friend’s wedding on Saturday and nearly lost it. Too. many. choices. There is an endless supply of ways to make women look colorful and shiny. I decided to go to one shop later this week and choose whatever was in front of me. Wham bam done.

Epic Rant

And so it begins…the epic rant that I’ve been avoiding ranting on about. Forgive me for this one but it needs to happen. Ever fiber of my being has tried to convince myself that I was ‘bigger than that’; it was trivial and it didn’t matter so much, that I’d get over it. The last part may be true– I will eventually get over it. But when my chest swells with anger at the very thought of it, I can’t deny it bothers me. What I’m talking about here is a bad haircut.

Hair does something for a woman that other things can’t. I could continue on about the femininity that is attached to hair and how we can often literally get so wrapped up in the stylistic variants and pleasure we woman get from our hair. But that’s not what this post is for. I’m here to rant about the awful haircut that was Shiva’s. I mention his name because if anyone does read this and needs a haircut in Bombay, stay far, far away from his clippers.

By now, I’ve made my rounds at beauty parlors across Juhu to Bandra. There are two I bounce between depending on what services I need. I haven’t gotten a haircut since September, before the big fat Russian/Turkish wedding. My hair didn’t grow out as expected and so I made a mental note to not return there when I was next in need of a cut. My hair grew unruly and difficult to manage. The humidity of Bombay (along with the hard water I supposed and pollution perhaps?) hasn’t exactly worked in my curly girl favor. I’ve come to adjust to life in Bombay but my hair was putting up a very clear fight.

After inquiring about a good hairstylist whom knew how to deal with curly hair I made the quick decision to follow my acupuncturists recommendation of a South Indian hair stylist named Shiva. I’m not South Indian but my hair is comparable to South Indian hair in all its thick and curliness so this seemed promising. “But don’t expect much, he’s very simple. Very good but very simple.” Perfect, I thought. A no frills award winning recommended stylist. “My acupuncturist would never lead me astray!” I thought. I trust her. I decided 5 months ago to trust her and it’s worked in my favor so this seemed no different. I made an appointment for the next day. When I walked in for the cut, I felt uneasy. ‘She wasn’t kidding’. It was beyond no-frills–the salon was dingy, at best. It was located in the posh area of Juhu and I had done my research online about the stylist. Google told me he’s done up most of Bollywood but I had to see it for myself. A part of me screamed ‘get the hell out of there, stat.’ But a bigger part of me said  ‘she warned me I would react this way. Just let it happen, Sonali.

Now to the scene of the crime—I explained to Shiva what I was looking for and he lazily agreed to deliver. I mentioned my nervous nature especially when getting a haircut. I know, I know, I need a hobby or a life, probably both. But again, forget the superficiality of it all and let me rant on. He proceeded to razor cut my hair, which I didn’t know till it was happening. It was all very surreal. I felt slices of hair disappear and before I knew it he handed me a bouquet of my hair, as if it he were being gentlemanly and my hair were a bundle of beautiful roses. I wasn’t able to process that moment until later. Just let it happen, it will come out nice. As the cut continued he had his staff hand me several magazines opening them up to the pages where he was pictured with celebrities and receiving awards. I could feel the anger and confusion building inside. WTF?!?! Is this man insane? I had my hair blown out and I reached towards the back of head. It felt thin, empty and flat. He was in no way interested in understanding how my curls fell or. He was an award-winning, competitive stylist who was also a sham. I came to learn later on that when a salon becomes a chain, many times stylists purposefully cut hair uneven or incorrectly in order to make its clients keep coming back to them. It didn’t make sense to me at first but eventually I came to see it worked; they would manipulate their client into believing their hair was one way or should be a certain way, and would continue to do this until their client actually believed it. Plus people are obsessed with straightening their hair. Curly hair is therefore not appreciated as much and so its rare to find someone who can cut it properly.  Sad but true. For Shiva, he was more interested in showing me his publicity and signs of recognition via beauty magazines.

I was so angry for so long. I told my acupuncturist about it and she suggested I pay him a visit again, that he would fix it. Fix it?! Hell no. I’m never going back there. I was so upset by it all that my anger even showed up in my Acugraph (this is a graph reading acupuncturists do to check your energy levels or chi). I couldn’t seem to get over the fact that I let this fool of man cut my hair and even worse that I cared about it so damn much. Morale of the story: listen to that inner voice when it tells you run far, far away from something. Also, live with your decisions, whatever they may be.

I’m not as angry as I was before. Hair grows back. Life goes on. We must keep moving forward. When you’re in a new city and don’t know better, you’re often reliant on someone else’s recommendation for your needs. No amount of online research could have told me Shiva’s sucked. Maybe bad haircuts are just a part of life. If one were to see my hair now they would like it wasn’t a big deal at all, it’s not as bad as I describe. The perfectionist in me smiles and says, ‘It’s not always going to work out in your favor, now.” All I know is that no matter how much I mature in life, I still feel as though a bad haircut will always certainly put me in a terrible horrible mood. END OF RANT.