Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Hair Raising Story - Part Un

So, the only-sister-of-the-groom wanted to get her air blow-dried. That should have been enough for the whole of the town to come running to me with their services, no? No. What follows is my rather hair raising story of how I got my hair “set”.

I, naively thinking, that hairdryers are as common in middle-class Indian households as pressure cookers are, decided not to take mine. In my defense, I had asked my mom about it before I left. “Do you have a hairdryer?” I had asker her, not mincing words. “I don’t want to bring mine.” My hairdryer takes up 1700 watts of energy and is mammoth. It’s huge and has a huger spiky wheel at its end to “add volume” to my wafer thin hair. Okay, I know wafer thin and hair don’t go well together. I know. But you get the idea, no? So, no. I was not lugging that contraption in my suitcases that seemed to be stuffed more than what I am after a hearty, eat-all-you-can buffet. Not to mention the transformer issues given its wattage and what not. “Yes, I have a hairdryer.” My mother repeated, again. And again.

Surely she must have picked up a decent one, I imagined. She lives all over the world and has terrible hair. I am sure it is a crime in some countries to go out with hair like that without at least blow-drying it. I should know. I have inherited that same hair. “No, don’t bring your hairdryer. It’s so huge.” She told me. Okay. I thought. I could borrow my sister-in-law’s travel hairdryer as a backup. Just in case. That hairdryer sort of just generates a lot of air and noise without any direction, but it’s workable. (Apparently, as I later discovered, it’s hard to buy a full-size, enough wattage to light up a small town, spiky-wheel-at-the-end hairdryer in India without wearing your chappals thin.)

Before I started to pack for my trip, I had pulled the 10 gallon wicker tote from under the bathroom sink. Now, this tote contains every hair product ever sold in this country. Mammoth dryer that looks like a mean weapon on Star Trek, teflon lined straightening iron, hot rollers for curl, velcro rollers for volume, half inch barrel curling iron, two inch barrel curling iron, metal hairdresser butterfly clips, hair color, developer, leave-in conditioner, straightening balm, curl defining mousse, volume enhancing medium hold styling gel, firm hold styling gel that does not enhance volume, anti-frizz hair serum that positively makes your hair flat, medium hold hairspray that retains bounce, firm hold hairspray that glues your hair tight. It is one well armed tote.

Hair dryer, the mother had. Straightening iron? Very useful, considering my bob. Bob + Humidity = Disaster. But Poona, where my parents live and the wedding was, is hardly humid. Also, straightening iron is high wattage. It might just burn. Not worth it. And in the end, I can always go and get my hair “set”. I hate getting my hair styled in unknown towns. For some reason they always know you are an out-of-towner and give you a shoddy blow-dry. It’s never worth the money. I much prefer to do my own hair thankyouverymuch.

So, I arrive at my parents' house. Armed with many bags. And my trusty Velcro rollers. Whoever invented them, I want to tell you, I worship you every morning. But I digress. So, yes. Rollers, volume enhancing medium hold styling gel, hairdresser metal clips, sarees, jewellery, evening shoes but no hair dryer and no straightening iron. After lunch, I say to my mother, “Show me the hair-dryer.” “Wait a minute. Let me remember where I put it.” She replies, running away because someone calls her. This does not look good. A few minutes later she returns and tells me she has found it and it is on the bed in my brother’s room. I walk inside and find no hair dryer. “Aie.” I call out like a petulant 3-yr old. “Where is the hairdryer? I can’t find it. All I see on the bed is what looks like a small personal heater.” My mother comes rushing in. “It’s a hair-dryer, alright” What? What?? “Well it’s a travel hair-dryer. It’s actually a hair-dryer-cum-heater-cum-iron-cum-water-heater.” WHAT? Surely she is making this up. I call out to my brother. “What is this thing?” I demand of him. “Oh.. that’s the travel thing. It has the iron and water heater. I have actually used the iron.” I am hyperventilating. This could not have been happening to me. My brother plugs it in and turns the neck of the contraption at an angle to turn it into a hair-dryer. It whirrs. “See? It works!” My mother says and flies into the kitchen before my speechless self can even begin to gather my thoughts.

For the next two days, I try blow-drying my hair with the hair-dryer-cum-heater-cum-iron-cum-water-heater. It’s not so bad, really. But takes a really, really long time. “Where do you go to get your haircuts and eyebrows done? Will that woman do my hair?” I ask my mother one evening, rubbing my sore arm from the blow-drying. “Dottie”, my mother shakes her head “that woman will take 2 hours to ‘set’ you hair.” “Two hours? I just want it blowdried. My hair is chin length. You can’t even do an updo. Why will it take two hours?” “They are very slow. They take two hours.” My exasperated mom tries to explain. So be it. I’ll just do my own hair, I think to myself and the sight of my Velcro rollers cheers me up a bit.

to be continued...


Vinita said...

"hair dryer that generates a lot of air and noise without any direction" heheehhee and the whole description of 10 gallon wicker tote.. toooo funnnyyyyy.

Next time go to "Hongkong" from CAMP area they do a good job.


rayshma said...

ALL you had to do was find a cyber cafe and drop me a line. i can tell you of good parlors IN your area! :P one of them was where i got my hair "set". for my own shaadi. and no, they didn't take over 35 minutes. and yes, my hair looked nice!
i could have sent u pics for proof! :D

ok... now hurry up and complete the story! :D

Rohini said...

Your wicker basket of hair care products sounds positively frightening... there are entire bunches of words there that I just didn't understand...

This is exactly why I straighten my hair. I have the most irritating kind of hair - just the wrong mixture of wavy and frizzy. And I don't have time, patience or skill to deal with t without professional help.

If I ever get seriously rich, I am going to hire a hair stylist who's job it is to make my hair look presentable every day ;-)

Usha said...

Hehehe. But I'd never have imagined that there was so much to hair dryers. And are you serious that you cant get an equally good product in India - Philips, I am sure?

Shruti said...


HAD to delurk to let you know how muucchhh I FEEL your pain - this could've been my story except that it is set in another tier 2 city. Here my mother takes me to her trusted 'parlour' where the owner lady calls to a young gal from inside whose name is Arpita. She takes a look at my hair while simultaneously forming creases on forehead as I try to explain I need a blow dry. She gives me an appointment and tells me to wash my hair but not to use conditioner AT ALL (or else.. ??). I show at our appointed time with all shampoo no conditioner flying frizz. She and 3 other ledis come and start rummaging through my hair putting hairdresser clips everywhere. Not that they have me - she shows me a fat tube of L'Oreal styling firm hold gel and says this is the besshht product out there but 50 rs. extra if I want it.. at this point sister show me any magic I'll take it. Well they start blowdrying and I see their feeble attempts at trying to persuade me to get Madhuri Dixit curls.. umm.. no see straight has no curls. So I tell them forget the hair dryer - get your flat iron - we'll salvage this together. They get their flat iron - it is sealed in the original packing and I know you'll get it - it is an old Conair model with a 'water reservoir' - ugh.. eeww.. yuck! Well serves me right - it was all for a party that my parents were throwing to show off their grand daughter (my child) and I was the one running around like Chicken Little trying to make sure my hair looked perfect. I ended up like the Bangalore Sai Baba.. and have pics to prove! Your story brought a tear to my eye.. no tears.. literally.. hope it ended better than mine :)

P.S. : I now own a Philips hair dryer (1600w) that I leave in India and have a Sedu flat iron that is meant for 220v (UK model). Need to learn to use rollers.. haven't gone there yet.


Shruti said...

Huge apologies for hogging the space.. this touched such a raw nerve!

Trishna said...

hahahaha too funny dottie...touched a few nerves here too...lol...now i can laugh about it..hope u can too :D

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Hahahahaha! Ha!

What a gift you have...for writing, of course.

Ruchika said...

Linked to your post from Pg's blog. Very interesting sotry, very nicely written.

Preethi said...

hair rising really.. might have been simpler to get a wig :P

PG said...

ha ha ha! goodness! Am I thankful that i have a small travel hairdryer to take with me.
Enjoyed reading your wonderful post!

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

What a riot!! That was hilarious!

There are 3 awesome salons near my sister's place in Chennai (one of them being Revlon's)...
Used to make frequent visits during my last 2-month trips...
ok, that was 5 years ago, and cost me peanuts (in dollars)...
wonder how much they charge now!!

Like Rayshma said, there must be tonnes of places there...
I used to visit some ultra-cool, ultra-hip places on FC Road for hair-cuts and other stuff...
(this is over a decade ago, shd only be better now!!)

but hey, if you knew about all that, we wouldn't have been able to read about a noise-generating, no-direction hair dryer

choxbox said...

oh horrors.

i needed just a leeetle trim before the BIL's wedding and guess what the idiotic hair dresser does - she made my hair shorter than the hubby's!! this despite specific instructions to take just .5 inches off. she possibly misunderstood and left just .5 inches! when i cribbed she said 'baal hi hai na madam, badh jaayenge.'

MIL had got a major lehenga made for me - looked utterly weird with my hair. oh well.

DotThoughts said...

vinita: glad you found it funny! thanks for the salon tip.

raysh: I thought of emailing you, seriously.. but thought since you have beenaway from pune for so long... wrong assumption.

ro: never thought of doing that. dang. thanks. will look into it before i go to india next time.

usha: nope, didn't find any.

shruti: oh god!!! conair made flat orin with a water reservior? i did not know that. poor, poor you. sigh. I bought a hairdryer to be left in india - it was a 220V/120V model and i forgot to switch it to 220 and it was fried. sigh. and no apologies needed!

trish: i can now. after almost a whole month!

mamma mia: thanks!

ruchika: thnkas:)

pg: i need to invest in one of them. do you know if they make ones with spiky wheels?

gnd: not at the time :)

chox: she did what???!!!! oh my god. oh my god.