When the bathroom mirror recently reflected a decidedly dowdy woman with hair crying out for a dash of colour, I decided it was time for my outing to the neighbourhood salon. Plus, I could do with the idle conversation that we women strike up with perfect strangers in the salon while waiting to be transformed into gorgeous swans. It was only when I arrived there that I remembered it was their weekly off and so I trundled off to a glitzier salon with rows upon rows of glamorous products on the shelves that made tempting promises to desperate housewives. I was suitably impressed by the sharply dressed young female staff in bright red lipstick and men in tight trousers with slicked back hair.
The girl at the reception was busy filing her nails while I explained I wanted hair colour, my eyebrows done and maybe waxing , pedicure and massage. After what seemed like an eternity, a pretty young thing led me to one of the plush salon chairs where I leaned back so she could give me perfectly-arched diva-like eyebrows.
“Ma’am, your skin is blotchy and dull. You need a chemical peel to brighten it. When a girl with scarlet talons and red lipstick is hanging inches over your face you control the instinct to tell her to mind her own business. “I haven’t had a facial in some time ,” I mumble weakly and she jumps in for the kill: “You should avail of our skin lightening and laser package for pigmentation. You get a free underarm laser along with our monsoon beauty package.”
My ego in tatters, I head off to to lick my wounds in private while I get my dose of happiness from a bottle of hair colour. It is not to be. “Ma’am your hair feels like straw,” says a chit of a girl with orange and purple hair and piercings in every visible body part. She is holding up my hair for everybody to goggle at and she is not finished yet. “You need a hair spa and a hair smoothening treatment. You have too much frizz.” I don’t know about smoothing my hair but she has definitely ruffled my feathers by now. Promising to consider her suggestion I totter to the mezzanine where half a dozen women like me are being subject to varying degrees of torture. I cringe from the sounds of hot wax strips pulling out hair and insist on a cabin where I can sob in private. Clearly, that is not to be. In between deftly pulling out hair from various body parts, Chanda, the puller-of-hair informs me that they have services to remove the wrinkles from my hands so that they look younger. They can also refer me to a doctor who can restore my sagging twin assets to their former glory, she confides. “Lots of ladies from your society have availed of this doctor’s services.”
Barely have I pulled the salon’s disposable gown over my body for a relaxing massage when the masseur pipes up: “Ma’am you should come for our guaranteed weight-loss package. We can remove the cellulite on your thighs and give you a smooth abdomen. We charge Rs 3000 per kg of weight loss,” Anamika, desperately-in-need-of-nourishment, says.
My stomach does a merry jiggle to some inner music of its own but I have never thought of my jelly belly as something that has a value of Rs 3000/kg. If it is that valuable, why the hell should I give it away? “And if you want to make one of your friends sign up, we can give you the package for Rs 2000/kg,” Anamika says, holding out the ultimate carrot.
Lying like a beached whale on that massage table, I never saw the next missile coming- a “butt facial’- to make that part of the anatomy smooth and beach-ready. I confess I was tempted for a moment by the promise of a perky posterior but the thought of alien hands applying a “fairness mask” on my dimpled backside was too intimidating.
Someday, I am determined to de-addict myself from the tyranny of the salon visits. But till that happens, my morale will continue to come from a head full of gloriously dark hair.
Sudha Menon is an author, columnist, speaker on gender and diversity issues and the founder of writing workshop series, Get Writing and Writing In The Park. She turns fifty in October and is preparing for life in the fifties with much gusto. You can contact her on email@example.com
You can reach her on firstname.lastname@example.org or her twitter handle@sudhamenon2006
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