Beauty, as they say, lies in the eyes of the beholder. But silky, long tresses have always been an established attribute of a woman's beauty. "Tumhari zulf ke saayen mein sham kar loonga", "Na jhatko zulf se paani", "O haseena zulfonwali", "Zulfon ki ghata lekar sawan ki pari aaye" and "Yeh reshmi zulfein", the list of Hindi film songs dedicated to women's shiny locks, never mind the hair extensions and wigs used by heroines to great effect, is endless.
Luckily, I'm blessed with natural long, shiny tresses. Thank God Almighty, or shall I thank my genes. My mother, in her late 70s, still wears her black, long locks with pride. A workwoman, I could never feel the same joy somehow. All the care these locks demand and the time they consume when I am running late for office where my pesky boss is always looking for a chance to yell at anyone and everyone.
How to stop my chirpy friends from showering their pearls of wisdom on pampering the curls? Then, the exasperating stylists at the beauty parlours, who, on seeing me, fling their rate cards to the side, and demand extra money for applying colour to and washing the "extra-long hair". The advice to shear them a few inches comes from almost all of them, free though. I wondered why all of them were so eager to shorten my hair until a report in this newspaper enlightened me about how a "fad for wigs was spawning a multi-million-dollar business" and the great Indian contribution in meeting the global hair demand.
To top it all off, all the puerile queries-which shampoo do you use, which hair oil, how can my daughter have such long hair, or do you wash them everyday-from my colleagues, seniors' wives and even outright strangers are nagging, to say the least. I was at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research with my husband for some tests last month. While I was away, a wiry little Sardarji with a patchy beard walked up to my husband with one of those inane questions: "Bhabhiji kerha shampoo use kardi hai (which shampoo does you wife use)?" Before my husband could even reply, he said naively: "I have poor beard growth. The same shampoo might work for me too." Left speechless, all my husband could do was give him a faint smile. When he narrated the incident to me, we had a hearty laugh. And, it still brings smiles on our faces.