<%-- Page Title--%> Slice Of Life <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 148 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

April 2, 2004

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Richa Jha

It is established. From now on, the residents of Dhaka will refer to any event as Before Habib, or After Habib. He came, he snipped, and he changed the way many Dhakaites do their double-takes with the mirrors. You were either lucky enough to be Habibed, or, alright, I shall not rub it in. And please don't ask me Habib, who? Oh, you ignoramuses, wake up, and know that he (of copper spikes, a gracious disposition, and patience of the Almighty) is the God of Hair Things himself.

Let me get the facts straight at the outset. I am a type-E person who visits the beauty parlour only twice a year- both times, to bring some order to the unbridled growth of hair that's been left unchecked for the last six months. If parlours are meant for exercises more complex than that, I plead ignorance. At the other end of the spectrum are the Type A people who visit it once a week. Most women with reasonable levels of social, familial, and business engagements belong to the once a month type-C category.

Cut to the previous week, when it happened to be my worst bad-hair day. Unruly un-shampooed hair with split-ends showing on all sides, grey strands peeping from here and there, tufts falling out from the elastic bands meant to put them all together in place. My head hung low, I pored over some magazine sitting next to a friend of mine who had dragged me along for a special treat to her hair, the treat being personalised hairstyling by Mr. Jawed Habib himself.

Several luminaries had their hair pinned up waiting for the master stylist to wield his magic scissors. Curiously enough (and something that even my un-polished mind could see), most women had come to Habib with their hair already styled! For eyes lacking the necessary know-how of the glamour world, it may have been difficult to say whether that style was pre-Habib, or post-Habib, --which may have irked the creative genius of the stylist. There is only so much you can do with already beautiful faces and even more stunning hair-dos. Thus, even as his fingers flew over the scissors, his eyes furtively glanced around the room for a real challenge.

"There, the lady over there with oiled hair and a pony-tail", he said loudly.

I looked up and said nervously, "oh no no, not me, I have come here with my friend".

I'll spare you the details of the ensuing deliberations, but soon, much against my wishes, after having been given a quick shampoo, I was wheeled in before the hair-guru.

I still tried my luck, "Irfan, no, no, I don't think it's required". No response from him.
"Irfan, this is embarrassing…". Still no word from him.
"Irfan, I am not into styling and all…".
"Are you talking to me?", he finally opened his mouth, "for if yes, my name is Jawed, not Irfan. And two, yes I can see that you have scant regard for your hair, which is why I want to try my hand on you".

Shamed into silence, there was little I could do to protest after that. He asked me how I wanted my hair. You wouldn't have pinned me down like this if I knew the answer to that, I said to myself. Aloud, I said, "anything that'll subsist on a sub-zero maintenance". He nodded, and soon I could hear his pair of scissors at work.

It probably took him a fraction of a jiffy. If there are makeovers in this wild world, others witnessed it then and there, and I experienced it first-hand. Once done, the Master beamed, the others present applauded, I stared at the mirror in disbelief! When The Hubby came to pick us up later that day, he failed to recognise me. Only once he was sure that the woman standing before him was actually me did he make his opinion known. He said my hair (please note, my hair, not my face, sparing as he is with his complements) looked like MeenaKumari's or Nanda's, the popular Hindi movie actresses from the 50s/60s. It was futile getting any further clarifications as to whether that was reason for me to smile or sulk. Anyway, I personally thought my mirror was, for once, saying good things to me, and I felt ecstatic.

Unfortunately, these feel-good phases are fleeting in my life, and it took one dip in the swimming pool, and a cool shower thereafter to figure that out. Gone were the bounce and the volume that had been skilfully created. Gone were the chic waves which had given me such a tremendous high over the previous 24 hours. The carefully blow-dried inwards-turned curls now faced all directions but the original one!

Alas, now with all the zing having fizzled out of the hair-style, all there's left are these unmanageable strands that droop over my eyes like a Lhasa-apso's fur; not long enough to be tied up, not short enough to be non-interfering. Most certainly, there is no way I'll appear in public before my hair has outgrown its awkwardness.






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