The what’s app group video call made to my relatives had set me thinking. All my handsome relatives with their always clean shaven, hair-dyed and well –kempt look were presently looking really shabby in their white haphazardly grown hair and beard. We all know that the hair and beard does not naturally grow in shape. They require the services of a skilled person called ‘the Barber’. But right now, the Corona -crisis has put away the services of the Barber out of coverage area.
Gone are the days, when a barber used to visit our home and in return for a few annas used to not only give the menfolk a really pleasant ,clean- shaven and presentable look but also in the same fees provided them with spicy gossip to update their current knowledge quotient. The current affairs of all the components of the village were discussed threadbare by the garrulous barber and whatever slip(s) of the tongue, the customer might have innocently shared with him about someone in his state of hypnotism during head massage was efficiently forwarded by the smart Barber with some added masala. These tit-bits of gossip were used by the barber profitably through his opportunistic ways. These rumour mills used to be run with the battery powered by this man called, ‘The village Barber’
That reminds us of the humorous but revolutionary short story written by Mulk Raj Anand where the humiliated son of a barber Chandu, decides to take revenge on the village- elders by going on strike. Chandu knew the outcome of his mischief, but the author was particularly surprised and amused to see the real and scruffy looks of all menfolk, who mattered the most in village decisions and who had always been so particular about their appearance. In the same way now, we are shocked and amused (but we dare not show) at the tattered looks of the higher-ups in our office and family.
Today, as we look at all these handsome faces turned into faces of barbaric age in the absence of the services of the barber, we are compelled to acknowledge his services of making this world good-looking and charming. The Barber and his Art were never given so much thought and value until this invisible Corona attacked us and slowly transported his customers from a civilised world to a stone age (of course with regards to hair) As regards to their dress, we can say the leafy garment has been replaced by a sleeveless vest and Bermuda shorts (permanent dress of this Corona Age)
It is a real challenge for all these men who have aged suddenly in 15 days (with the expensive dye leaving their black hair) to attend online meetings disclosing their real self which has always been hidden under a dyed look leaving people guessing about their real age. Now the whole world knows what age they are. The new normal as the pandemic age has put it- is this look which is a fact.
The brains behind these ragged appearances are the same, their thoughts, their ways of solving the solemn issues at the workplace are the same, but we did feel a little awkward in the beginning to see them thus. But then, every novelty dies down quickly and now we have slowly accepted this.
Why in the first place do we need a pleasant appearance? It is our necessity everywhere. We feel confident, when we are dressed up in a presentable way according to the occasion and we also expect people to meet us in the same presentable way. If a person who meets us in a social setting is not dressed properly for the occasion, then he is prone to be the recipient of barbed comments from the gathering. The echoes of his flouting the rules of proper apparel for that social appearance are bound to be heard by him wherever he goes. In our civilised world, depending on our cultural milieu, we have unwritten codes and dictates for presenting ourselves. We need to conform to these norms, if we want to be called a civilised member of that community. On the contrary, it is observed that some people deliberately choose to take pleasure in breaking these unprinted codes of appearance as they enjoy being the talk of the town. Even the idols of God are made so beautiful and presentable that ultimately we feel mesmerised after looking at them.
The story of the female world in the absence of the services of their trusted beauticians is even worse than the menfolk. But we can devote a special write-up for that!
Some men deliberately develop their idiosyncratic appearance for the public eye. Some men will always be in formal dress (checks or plain pastels), or perennially in informal dress or Lenin kurta with khadi Jacket or plain T-shirts in different hues. While dying their hair also each of them either stick to either red, brown or jet Black for a personal customised look. But right now, this unique personality quotient has been lost to the Corona Pandemic and all the men are looking the same with silvery hair and beard. We can also recall and apply now the contents of the school essays we have duteously written on the proverb, ‘Handsome is what handsome does’
The menfolk have to become self-reliant or depend on their spouse: like Virat Kohli took the help of Anoushka Sharma to make their look presentable again. The talk is some of the services might be allowed to run in Lock down 4. The men folk are hoping against hope that the services of the barber might be opened. No doubt, the Barbers are going to be very busy whenever the lockdown is lifted up. Till then, let’s believe in the maxim …. Beauty, Oops! Handsomeness is not dyed- hair deep, but it’s below- it is -brain deep.