Friday, March 31

Can’t split hairs now but some are tearing their hair out

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Grey streaks have suddenly appeared on dark heads. Some have parted away with the beloved moustache. Rough edges are visible on manicured nails.

With salons and parlours shut for a fortnight, personal grooming has taken a backseat. Worst affected are people who consider personal grooming to be a part of personal hygiene.

“Apna shakal aine mei nahi pehechaan rahe hain (Cannot recognise my own face in the mirror),” is a refrain that Arshad Ali, who runs Arshad Salon on Park Street, has heard several times from his patrons over the past few days.

His shop has been shut since March 21, a couple of days before chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced a shutdown in Calcutta and three days before Narendra Modi announced a nation-wide shutdown.

Ali is worried about the footfall even after the curbs are lifted. “Physical contact is often unavoidable in our profession. People will think twice before visiting salons and parlours,” he said.

A Ballygunge resident who works with a global consultancy is taunted by friends for being a “salon freak”.

She got a call from the parlour she goes to on March 20. “They had sensed that some curbs were imminent and told me that the place could shut down indefinitely. I went there that very day and got some basic stuff like pedicure, manicure and waxing done,” said the woman, in her 30s.

“But the saving grace is that I am not having to meet anyone outside, or go to office or attend social gatherings,” she said.

A 30-year-old woman in New Alipore, who co-owns an event management company, used to visit a parlour once a month for a “complete head-to-toe treatment” and once every 10-12 days for eyebrow, upper lips and similar things.

“I am trying basic cleansing and scrubbing at home. There is no other option,” she said.

A man in his late forties, who works for a private firm in central Calcutta, got rid of his prized moustache a couple of days ago. “I have to get my moustache trimmed once every 10-12 days because it grows very fast. I cannot do it at home. I thought it would be better to part with the moustache than keep an untrimmed one,” he said.

His Facebook post, uploading pictures of himself without facial hair, has generated a fair amount of online traction.

A 42-year-old homemaker from Salt Lake needs a hair spa at frequent intervals. Unable to do that at home, she has been trying some concoctions to keep her hair smooth but to little effect.

Priscilla Corner, co-owner of the June Tomkyns chain of salons, said people did not visit salons only to look good. “They develop a bond with stylists. Often, they tell the stylists stuff that they will not tell their counsellors. It is not only about physical well-being but for mental satisfaction as well,” she told Metro.

Asked if it was possible to do basic things like facial and hair colour at home, Priscilla said that depended on “the degree of professionalism, or the lack of it, that one is likely to live with”.

Not everyone is complaining though. A 50-year-old man who lives in an apartment off EM Bypass in Patuli has been growing a beard for the first time in his life. “It is different and fun. My mother tells me it looks good,” grinned the man, a bachelor who works in a senior position with a private insurance company.

Ruvena Sanyal, a city-based psychologist, said there were “graver issues at play than personal grooming”.

“We are in the midst of very trying times, and each individual is reacting to stress, anxiety and fear in different ways. However, I believe we need to focus on things that really matter at this moment. There are medical personnel who need protective gear, people battling the disease and are afraid of losing their lives, thousands who have already lost their livelihoods, or are afraid of doing so, and many more who are faced with hunger,” she said.

“In such circumstances, I am sure we can make compromise with the inability to follow personal grooming rituals or the inability to follow one’s regular routine,” she added.


Source: The Telegraph

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