I used to have hair that rivaled my mother's. My hair was so long I was always mistaken for a hot girl from the back and a scary mule from the front. Well, that was just to kick the fact in that my hair was longer than all boys in college, and for that fact, most girls too. I took real great care it. Washed it each day. Combed it clean back so that none of it fell into my eyes when I rode my bike. I was passionate. Long hair meant huge problems. Trouble for my parents. My dad was always afraid to show me in public, mostly because I told everyone I was growing my hair coz I was soon going to inherit my father's crisis. My mother was afraid to show her friends my room. My room was worse than a barber's shop. Hair fell like crazy. I was loosing hair by the second. My mother would sweep the house once every two days and sweep my room every two hours. My dad hated my hair for the fact that if I forgot to close the door to my room, it would look like the food had grown hair. And the wind never helped the situation. That was how bad my hair fall situation was.

This was in college. I kept my hair until I finished college. Then there was the second phase of my like that required me to be "groomed". My mother saw to it that my hair was gone. I was no longer allowed to wear jeans. My privilege to be wild was gone. I was to be tamed to fit into the society. to follow the line like every one else did. But the fact was that I could not get my job with cargo pants with 15 pockets, baggy T-shirts with bleeding sculls on them and specially no shoulder length hair. Well, I was glad my hair fall situation was going to fall dramatically with the shorter hair. I obliged. I cut my hair so low that I swear I could see my brains when I looked closer. I saw a silver lining in the clouds. I looked positive and I got my job. Now I was looking for my hair fall situation to tame. Well, it was just like me. It seemed to be taming on the outside. But, soon, my room was covered with hair as small as my nasal hair. I realized the Scofield hair do was not helping the situation. I took to chemical solutions. I bought myself a top-brand "serum" aimed at strengthening the roots of my hair. I wasn't sure whether I bought it for the reasons they gave for why their product was 5x better or for the girl on the bottle. It did not occur to me that the brand left out the benchmark for their improvement. 5x better than what???Competitors???more likely, 5x better than plain water!!!!

Anyway, I was now a faithful customer of one of the top brands in the Hair-Care industry. I stuck to the product for over 6 months. I was giving the product time to get accustomed to the filth my hair goes thro'. Six months, there is more hair on my towel than there is in my beard or my mustache. Hair fall is the same as it used to be in the day. But now my hair was 5x shorter than it used to be and the fall should have been at least 2x lesser. Man, i was getting frustrated. Sometimes I felt I was loosing more hair than before. I was difficult to comprehend the situation. I could not fathom how or why this was happening. It was a mystery. I did not have enough time. I was soon going to share my father's hair style. Well, with the hair he has left, there not much style left ether and the thought was giving me the creeps. I had to solve the problem at the earliest. If a product that is proven to be 5x better (I still do not know better than what) has not helped save a single hair, I was not sure what options I had left. I decided to take the matter up with the hair-care company.

My hair is now at least 5x times shorter than the last time I called you. How come my hair fall is no lesser??? Have you been putting me through a wild goose chase??? D you have an answer???

Sir. Are you using our Hair-care product???

Well, is that not obvious why I called you??

Have you been following the instructions on the back of the product???

Shit!!!!Who the hell knew there were instructions on how to apply shampoo on your hair. I told her I was getting another call and I went to read the instructions better (for the first time). This is when I noticed something in small green letters on the green bottle, below the huge name of the company. Since I read it, Ive changed my brand. What I read made me realise how naive' we all are. The bottle had 3 words that made it clear to me that these people were 5x better at advertising. It read

" *********

revitalizing serum that
helps hair fall"
Now does it mean they help hair in falling or help hair from falling???? I called the people again to find out. Well, there is no point in calling someone who slams the phone down on you.

Now-a-days, I've made it a point to read every line on a product before I buy them.



A week had passed. I can't say how bad a shape I am in now. I've been folded, smoothed out, roughed and ultimately used like there is no tomorrow. I have two friends who don't have as much work as I have, but are just as worked out as I am. They work under me. All they do is stand on the Heel till they are relieved.We never work together. They never see light during the day unless its completely unavoidable. I, on the other hand, keep moving in and out. I am drenched every now and then. Work is never too little for me. Its even harder when there is an out break of flu. Well, as luck usually has it, it was the hottest week ever and there was a running nose around every corner, meaning, work was twice as difficult, twice as gruesome. I never falter. I have a heart the size of this universe, though my body might not seem so. I trudged on through the week. There is no saying how bad things can get when the heat makes every pore on the skin to reeks out with so much sweat that you have to drink more water just to sweat more. But throw in a nose that leaks like a cracked dam, you have the perfect recipe for a social reject. That's how this week made me feel. The dust on the roads seemed to have no where to go. They seemed magically attracted by the sweat. Well, just adds to the glory of the reject. By mid week, after perhaps million swipes or so at the filthy sweat, I realized I was slowly loosing my color. It was not happy. The flu was going no where. Alternate swipes at the sweat and the goo just made me feel worse. I was loosing track of my duties. My friends were not doing so well themselves. You can't blame them. They had the worst place of work ever. The only time they were allowed to see the out side was when the day was over, sometimes at 10 and sometimes even at 12 in the night. We had started out fair at the beginning of the week and now I was slowly turning into a color that was a mixture of Dark Grey (sweat + Dust), Light Grey (from the nasal GOO) and a strange shade of Yellow (only God knows from where). I can't even imagine what my friends looked like. They sure were not happy. The made sure they announced their agony with all the foulness in the world. It was luckily a Sunday tomorrow, no need to worry about the sweat, the goo or the _oo. It was going to be over anytime now. I can breathe easy now on. I was not going to hide my joy. I was certainly doing a good job of showing off my true color of White and Pale Blue as I lay there, basking in the sun with my friends by my side. Clearly we had to have turned a lot of heads through the week, to have been washed at 12 in the night.



'Are you cold?', the father asked his son, after putting his son in the bus that was taking us to Madras. The kid looked like he had grown up in a hurry. He was slightly taller than I was (well, my hair tickled his chin when I stood up to let him in). He looked at least a couple of months from puberty. Every thing about him oozed out shyness. Even his facial hair. He refused to see anyone in the eye.
He responded to the bald mans question with a grim nod (the bus was artificially converted into a mobile freezer box). The man, with a clear sign of concern on his face, literally ran out of the bus to the car he had parked diagonally in front of the bus, concerned they might leave the hulk of his son, behind. He returned, panting and gripping a silvery shawl to protect the kid from freezing over. He slowly started to stretch the huge frame of his son across 2 seats, making sure he was as comfortable as can get. All this was happening while the rest of us were glowering at the duo. The bus had started 1 hour late, waiting for these buggers. We had managed to convince the driver into rolling the bus out of the city and into the bypass, and now here we were again, stopped in our tracks by a mad man who chased our bus and parked his car in front of us, and was now pampering a big boned teenager.
'OYE DRIVER!!!!', he had the audacity to scream, from inside the sound proof seating area of the bus, to the driver who sat on the other side of the flexi. Seeing that his voice did not manage to pierce thro' the 6" thick glass, he smartly started ramming the back of his hand on the glass till the TV behind the glass stated to wobble in protest. He did not stop till the driver and cleaner, afraid the TV might fall on their heads, ran into the seating area for cover. 'Yena???Unga vandila porvai tharamatieengala???Nanga konduvandhutom, paavam, mathavanga enna pannuvaanga???',(in a politer tone, Don't you people have blankets for your passengers? I brought one, what about the rest of them there) he rambled, shaking his head in the direction of where I lay, clearly shivering. He was protesting, in our support, or so it seemed, until he snatched 2 more shawls from the cleaner's cabinet, picking the best there were. 'Intha saamii', (here you go sir) he said, laying one shawl after another on the prostrate frame of the kid. Tucking him with all possible care. He was taking his sweet ass time in making sure every inch of the boy's outgrown skin was covered. When he was done, after a nerve rattling 15 minutes of our time, he was satisfied with himself. He had left a small opening for his son to see him leave and another small vent for a stray molecule of oxygen to pass through to the mummy's nostrils. When he was ready to leave, the mummy managed to wiggle a couple of fingers form under the sheaths of silk, to make the bald devil leak from the eyes. I was convinced he was only crying for fear for his son's life. The door shut on us. The lights turned out. The bus didn't move a flicker. Looking through the screen, I found the crazy man directing the driver to stop at the kid's school and cross the over grown beanstalk across the street to the school. The school was supposedly on the by-pass road leading to madras. The father then shook hands with the driver, neatly managing to slip in a couple of notes into the drivers hands.

Now that the ordeal with the crazy father was over, we moved on. the bus was careering through the nigh traffic. It looked like the driver was making up for the lost eons by trying to extinguish the human race. One man who I had kept eying for the strange likeness he shared with a maddened grizzly, suddenly let out a sickening belch and threw up on the poor weasel of a man who was sharing half his seat with the grizzly. Sudden movements, puke bags being passed to the grizzly, pardons exchanged, seats shifted. And through all of this, the mummy lay unaware.

The bus kept rolling away at the same break-neck speed. I couldn't sleep from nervousness. The guy next to me was shifting uneasily and I was expecting him to burst from every orifice, anytime. Just when the roads seemed to clear and the drivers speed was setting into everyone, out of the blue, a rare deer, swiftly and gracefully jumped in front of the bus and as quickly as it had jumped in front, it had scampered back into the bushes, or so the driver claimed (in the driver's words, oru dearinga, vandikku munnala dunggunnu dunggunnu kuthicchi vanthicchi. Onnume panna mudiyala). Well, whether it was a deer or something that rhymes with it, the driver stamped on the breaks (air brakes, meant to stop the bus in its tracks at any speed), the ABS kept the bus from slamming into the stream of cars in the next lane and the thick growth of mangoes on the side. Well, this is when I should have been flustered and angry with the driver for making up an utterly insane alibi or at least thankful I was still alive to be doing what I was doing. But I was not, because I was delirious with laughter, tears streaming down my eyes, the sides of my stomach aching from spasms. I was chocking on my own laughter. The mummy had slipped clean from his seat and had somehow gotten itself wedged between his seat and the one in front of him. The shawls his loving dad had wrapped around his seemingly healthy body, were binding him like a strait jacket. He was struggling to free his hands. Half way through the struggle he lost track of where his hands were and was blindly shaking his shoulders. I was going to die soon if I did not stop laughing now. I laughed at this thought coz I was sure the poor kid was going to die if he kept struggling against the straight jacket. Suddenly, at God's will, his hands popped out from no where. Now I was consumed by a fresh bout of laughter from watching the kid trying to figure out where one shawl ended and where the other began. But he did not have to figure that out until the next day as me and the grizzly pulled the kid, wit his drapes, onto the seat and there he lay, no longer stretching across his seat, but curled up against the window. I was too tired from laughing that I had no time to feel sorry for him. We reached Madras the next day, just half an hour later than our scheduled arrival.