Barber: The Horror.

A limit on a timeline extending to infinity, my hair has a tendency to be longer than the median. It is a constant source of frustration for my parents, to whom long is automatically shaggy.

Well, I can sympathize with the perspective. My hair is shaggy. It’s hedgerows growing out of control. It’s vines penetrating brick and bringing down houses. It doesn’t help that I find combs intrinsically evil. I believe that combs were imparted to Mankind by the devil, invented to enslave mankind and be the primary tool in the committing of heinous crimes. Adolf Hitler had a side-part. I bet he even combed his moustache down. Combing hair into neat, paddy-field rows is a direct violation of basic human freedoms to express oneself. That being said, I will admit that the just-out-of-bed style doesn’t really work very well with long hair that grows at a maniacal rate. My hair is a terrifyingly quick study. Taken into account with the clean-shaven whiskers, I look like Dogtown’s version of the Noble Savage. All that you’d need to complete the picture would be a scuffed and worn baseball hat and better skater shoes than I can find in New Delhi. Along with genuine cotton ankle length socks that actually only come up to my ankles.

Then, add a NORML t-shirt to my cart.

My hair exists for a slightly more Freudian reason than the reaffirmation of my individuality. The locks have a psyche, a personality, a subconscious and the requisite fears that attach to them. They are the monsters from my Id, ego be damned. The hairs have a life of their own, a mind of their own. All I do is maintain them with generous doses of shampoo and conditioner. A barber shop reminds me too much of a gas chamber for this precious commodity. It is the chamber of execution for my freedom to be indifferent, just like home is the chamber of judgment for that freedom and my parents, the jury.

The verdict came in. Hair cut or house arrest. My mom does have a reputation to maintain.

That was two weeks ago. My hair has grown a centimeter since. I’ve since come to realize that there are always excuses for those who wish to make them. To be more specific, there are always justifications to reassure the criminally lazy. The first of these is that my aversion to dentists with their whirrings and whinings extends to barbers with their clickety clacking hair guillotines. Barbers are hygenists with tools that are less shiny and less sterilized than their oral counterparts. Their little setups are hotspots for the AIDS virus. They are the hitmen of wigmakers and as such, their commissions help keep the fake hair business afloat by collecting from the masses. Talk about preying on the clueless. Wig money is blood money.

Like mafioso, they operate on the weekends, they ply their trades at night while opening late in the morning the next day. No wonder mobsters hang out in barber shops in the movies. They make excellent covers. Still, the streets of Chittaranjan Park are deserted on Tuesday, the Bengali population stretching its afternoon siestas to last an entire day. The whistles of Western movies echo in the background while dust devils whisper around lonely auto-rickshaws parked by the shutters. The principle is that our faith proscribes the cutting of nails and hair on Tuesday, not to mention the consumption of any sort of meat, woe to the plants. Sure enough, my hair grew a millimeter.

I would have gone on Monday, but Monday is a day for the blues, a day when life is too depressing to do anything more than come home from class and read another chapter from my Political Science book. Political Science is diabolical, and I’m loath to call it a science. My hair is too long, the people won’t trust my opinion on politicians anyway. I just look like too much like a liberal left-wing legalization nut. I don’t trust the barber, and the people don’t trust me. This country operates almost entirely on the first impression. It feels like everyone interviews for existence in a daily basis here. If it goes South, well, you’re blacklisted and the gossip is a forest fire with your life as the brush.

This is another reason why I can never have the right hair cut. There are too many niches, too many crowds and everyone doesn’t appreciate the same thing on my head. Short hair is too short for the younger, and long hair is too unkempt and shady for the older. Some women like me in long, and some in short. The expectations are too high. They are killing me. This is death by aesthetic demographics. Not to mention the fact that I’m deathly scared of the barber. He asks, “How long?” I say, “Two inches.”

“What’s an inch?”

It’s one third what he’s packing. Please, no, don’t screw it up. I’m afraid of the barber for what he is, and for what he does. I couldn’t face him on the weekdays, for if he screwed it up, I wouldn’t go anywhere. Once he messes up, I can’t say, “That is not what I wanted, try again.” I have a reputation to maintain too. I couldn’t go on Saturday either. I made the mistake of wearing the Who to India’s Independence day, the British flag stamped clear across my torso. The barber is a patriot, jai Hind. If he’d have seen it, he’d have been extra firm while cutting around my ears, twisting my cartilage ring all the way around to help me feel the pain India suffered at the hands of the English. I can empathise without the punishment. I would like a healthy, comfortable head-massage, not knuckle-raps on my pate. Oh yeah, I forgot, you Americans don’t even get those. They still charge you twenty bucks for a simple cut? Thieves, I tell you. Thieves. The less than a dollar haircut is India’s response to the decadence of cosmetology in the West. I wonder when haircuts will be outsourced here.

Sunday is the day of recovery, a day to sit in silence and contemplate the horrors of the week slowly sailing into harbor. I don’t have the heart for courage by this day. The days sap the life out of me.

Still, I”m going to have my hair face its fears sometime this week. It doesn’t hurt it any. It’s just going to hurt my feelings when the barber side parts me. Like Hitler. I’ll cry a little on the inside when he sweeps the thick black hair into a bin so that someone else can identify with what should always belong to me.

Let’s try Thursday. The anticipation of Friday and the relief of a used up workweek can be the adrenaline to counter the terror. Headbanging will be less fun in the near future. I will be financing terrorists. The prospect is bleak.


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