When I got married at 23 or was it 24, anyway, this was when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I had hair that fell to my hips. And was the kind that could have been used as a lasso in a crunch. And while it was of no Rapunzel quality, read non silky, non cared for, it was a royal pain in the butt. For one, we live in Mumbai. A city that is synonymous with sticky, given the humidity percentage in the air. And one needed to spend approximately two hours either on the way to and fro to work. Therefore, the hair would need to be washed on an almost everyday basis. And would never dry. And therefore, I took myself to the nearest salon and got the lot chopped off to shoulder length. And breathed a deep sigh of relief. Needless to say, the mater in law went into instant mourning and refused all nourishment in the proper way as prescribed when a dearly beloved family member passes away. For days together I was looked at with red rimmed eyes spitting anger and hatred. I didnt really notice, I was too busy washing my hair.
And for all my woman of the world demeanour, I really did not have a clue that washing of the hair, had, err, other implications. Therefore, my hair was washed everyday, much to the consternation of the household and the neighbours. Me? It was just a hygeine ritual like brushing my teeth or having a bath, I didnt feel clean until my hair was washed, and I still wash my hair every single day, even today. Being the dimwit I am, this conversation with a neighbour left me completely perplexed and about to consign her to the loony bin, until bells of realisation just rang recently, to my complete and utter knees shaking mortification:
Scene: I emerge from home, freshly bathed and hair washed and gleaming wet on my shoulders.
Neighbour hanging aimlessly out of her ground floor apartment, with all knowing smile: Ah, so you washed your hair today?
Me, with the absolute innocence of One Who Did Not Know: Yes, I wash my hair everyday. And sometimes if it is very hot, even twice a day.
Neighbour cracks smile even broader, showing very very yellowed teeth: When I was newly married like you, even I would wash my hair everyday, now I wash it maybe once in months.
I automatically move two steps behind in horror: How can you? I cant bear not washing my hair for even a single day. Even a quick wash is enough if I dont have time to shampoo and condition it.
Neighbour rolls out corpulence still encased in floral nightdress, from behind door frame: Arey, kya karen, abhi to wash karne ka mauka hi nahi milta hain.
Me, utterly revolted by what I perceive as disgusting hair hygeine, and getting on my self care soap box: No wonder your hair is in such terrible condition, you have to wash and condition your hair at least thrice a week, or youre going to have no hair left to condition. How can you not wash your hair for months….
And then, while walking off, saying kindly, “Try to wash your hair at least twice a week now.” And perplexed at the broad smile and the wink thrown at me.