Bad haircuts and dance performances

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I was always into dance performances when I was in my teens. I would participate in local dancing competitions, school functions, Independence day parades and so on and so forth. There were two issues which presented themselves during these dance performances, which make me slightly discount the endorphin, adrenaline and serotonin high I got from those performances.

Firstly, the dances were of the nature which required a girl to have hair which could be tied into a bun. In those days, I used to get an embarrassing haircut called the ‘Mushroom cut’. Till date, I don’t know what possessed me to get those haircuts. I looked good in them, but it was not me. I would get those haircuts and then spend the next few months defending the haircut. There is an unsaid rule in my life that only I can make myself feel bad about my hair. No one else can.

Now most of these dances were of a traditional nature where we had to wear saris and artificial jewelry along with ‘alta’ which is a Bengali red dye applied on hands and feet(imagine Madhuri and Aishwariya’s look in Dole Re song). We wore big bindis and five kilos of makeup. I didn’t have an issue with makeup, but it clashed with my mushroom cut look. It presented me in a bad light, as if I was deeply confused about my identity in this world. Was I the spunky chick who sported a funky hairstyle, but had decided it is not sanskari for me to do so? Or was I the traditional young lady on a rebellious streak, who would just rebel in small ways and not do anything too drastic to upset the other traditional people? Still trying to figure out what that look meant.

I had to use false hair/artificial bun to make things easier for the audience. I now know from experience that it plopping a bun on top of your head, while the rest of your hair falls naturally into a mushroom cut look, makes you look slightly retarded. It looks like an ice-cream cone, with the scoop being too large for the rest of the cone, maybe because the scoop wanted to make a loud statement just like Rakhi Sawant. This ice cream cone look didn’t have any particular impact when it came to my dance performance.

Once I had used false hair for a performance. In the middle of the semi classical and eloquent dance steps, my false hair decided that it had had it. It just slipped effortlessly on the floor. I picked up the false hair, in a series of dance steps to make it look choreographed. and then slipped off the stage as if that too was planned. I then frantically clipped on the false hair, mumbling a few curse words(which were of an innocuous nature at that time and mostly included donkeys). I then slipped back onto the dance floor quite shamelessly, as if the last seconds of my life had never happened.

Secondly, I detested the fact that they made me Mahishasur(the obese devil with a big handlebar mustache whom Goddess Durga killed, which is why we got ten days school holiday every year). Yes, so in a way, I was responsible for those holidays. You can thank me and send me gifts if you want. But, I could never understand why I was picked as Mahishasur. Was I a natural for the part? I did have fairly bushy eyebrows till I started getting them threaded. The confusing part was that I was Mahishasur but I had the Dole Re look, with the ice cream cone bun and everything. For people, the question ‘Who am I?’ comes after a lot of spiritual and deep meaningful years of pondering. For me, I think the seeds of doubt started sprouting after these performances.

We were once performing on a huge ground on the occasion of Independence day. The sequence was such that I had to dance normally, then fall under the Goddess’s foot on a particular cue for her to kill me(it always felt like walking and then fainting under her feet for a few seconds). After she killed me, I had to get up and start dancing again(maybe this was the afterlife dance). I had rehearsed this fainting and afterlife dance sequence enough number of times, so much so that I stopped feeling humiliated about why they chose me for the part. But…..I don’t know what came over me that day. I decided to fall at the Goddess’s feet a few seconds earlier. Maybe this is what the inevitability of death means. You know it, so why fight it? She got confused and mentioned that I was before time. This was the only time in my life when being before time led to the air being distraught with panic and utter directionlessness . After a few awkward moments later of sheer inactivity between me and the Goddess, I was killed by her.

If you find me sobbing uncontrollably at a hair salon if my hair gets cut too short, you know why.

Image Credits: http://www.picturequotes.com

 

 

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Popcorn with Sultan’s brother

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So, I go for ‘Sultan’ with a friend. We have the tickets at the rear end of the theatre. The seating arrangement for our row is such that there are two seats, a gap and then a solo seat. We settle down in our seats. As the lights go out, a lady accompanied by a man walks in and occupies the solo seat next to us. The man looks around and then plops on the floor (in the gap). I look at him and battle between gasping at the blatant rebellious (free?) behaviour of this man and pretending to be cool about his choice of seat for the movie. I do the latter. Who wants to be a stuck up person anyway?

As the lights flash on the screen, I look at the guy, albeit a little slyly. I don’t want to stare at this person whom I am suddenly feeling compelled to admire for his oblivion to society’s rights, wrongs and blah.

I tap on my friend’s shoulder and exclaim (although not too loudly, since I am still pretending to be cool) – ‘Is this Arbaaz Khan?’

My friend also stares at him and nods. Celebrities have to resort to such extreme measures to keep their lives private, I conclude. He must have wanted to watch his brother’s movie with no one staring at him; hence he chose to sit in the last row of the theatre. Plus sitting on the floor makes this a perfect place for him to hide from the public eye and watch the movie in peace.

The dilemma begins when the movie begins. I take the whole walking-in-other-people’s-shoes thing a bit too seriously. I am hypersensitive to what might offend Arbaaz, and of course all criticism of the film and Sallu bhai tops the chart in terms of what might offend him.

We appropriately laugh at the punch lines and my friend comments loudly as to how Salman doesn’t look 50 years old. I also nod along vigorously, adding in my expert comments on how much effort it must take for him to maintain a body like that. Of course, being on the wrong side of the Khan family is something that every Indian wants to avoid, unless one wants to increase the probability of being run over by their vehicle, while sitting on a guava tree branch.

Arbaaz seems lost in the film and has no time for our overenthusiastic-walking-in-other-people’s-shoes phenomenon. Of course, as a director, his job is to watch movies from a professional angle. We decide to take a selfie with him after the film. As soon as the movie finishes, he gets up and starts walking fast. At that moment, I discover that my friend is also a swift walker, in fact slightly swifter than him. She manages to overtake him and look at his face.

Then with an air of disappointment, she says-‘This is not Arbaaz’. I wonder if my perception of the film would have been different if this guy walking around, looking like Arbaaz Khan hadn’t biased my opinions. No more walking around in other people’s shoes. I also Whatsapp the half dozen people that I had already informed about Arbaaz walking around breathing the same theatre air as us, that it a false alarm.

Well, at least we got to stuff popcorn down our throats, while this side show was going on.

Image Credits- etsy.com

Mom, the cake is salty!

It was a bright morning. My friends were about to come home for a giggly girl gossip session. Going by my choice of words, I am sure you would have figured out that this incident dates back to my teenage years, back to a time when having giggly girl gossip sessions were considered ok. Of course, now we call them venting sessions for lack of better words, or plain old anger. I had gotten up early on that day and was feeling particularly open to hard work. It was a new feeling, especially during the summer holidays where the days used to be laced in a blur of endless eating, drinking and sleeping.

I had decided to make chocolate cake that day. My friends were(and still are) special and I was in a mood to soak in some compliments from them on my baking début.

One swift move and the apron was on. I opened a cook book which had pages that looked so delectable that I wanted to start licking the pages.Thanks to the concept of 2D and 3D , no such calamity befell the recipe book, which lay glistening with all the glory of the beautiful dishes which people often got tempted to lick off from.

As all recipes go, this one also had a (rather long) list of ingredients. I started collecting all of them, scurrying into the storage room next to the kitchen ever so often.

Do you recall the last baking show that you watched? Does it resemble anything that you do in the kitchen in real life?

The answer for me is no.

Baking shows make it look effortless and beautiful, with transparent bowls and everything neatly arranged before the camera starts. They don’t show a teenager darting off to different corners of the kitchen and store room using curse words that she has recently learned if she is unable to find the ingredients. No, those women are the power ladies(or teens).

After gathering all the ingredients and instructing everyone to stay out of the kitchen, I started preparing the dough and mixing the ingredients. Portions were carefully measured and the flour was washed off from the hands ever so often. Everything was perfect. My friends would be home in around an hour and the cake would be ready by then, shining in all its glory. After using all my muscular power to mix the dough properly, I carefully emptied out the contents into a baking tray brushed with butter so that the cake would not stick to the tray.

Note: I did not taste the batter.

As I often do, as soon as the batter was popped inside the oven, I started staring at the dough, almost pressurising it to rise. It did ultimately rise, flaunting its spongy golden brown fluffy texture. I was mighty pleased and was mentally preparing for an acceptance speech. My heart started beating faster as the time to take out the cake from the oven approached. I was gleeful, to say the least.

After what seemed like an eternity, the oven went ‘ting’. ‘Ting’ is always a sign of completion, a sound of achievement. But it is often accompanied by goofititis( coined by me- fear of goofing up). I picked up a fork and smoothened out the cake, leaving behind some crumbs for me to taste.

The cake crumbs went into the mouth. Even today, I recall everything from picking up the crumbs to putting it into my mouth in slow motion. That was where the illusion of having baked a perfect cake was shattered, and that tiny moment determined whether I was a good teenage baker or not.

“Aargh.” I shouted, blinking my eyes quickly as if to make sure that I had tasted the cake properly.

My mom who was just outside the kitchen came rushing in, realising that the earlier rule of no one inhibiting the kitchen but me could be broken.

“What happened?” she said.

“The cake.” I said.

“What about it?” she said.

“It is salty.” I said.

“Are you sure?” she said.

“Yes.” I said, now snorting like a pig.

She could not taste the cake because there were eggs in it and she is a vegetarian. But this was an acute baker goof up. How did the tv shows get it so right, I thought, my face turning a little green due to jealousy and due to the contents of the cake.

My logical brain ( which I think I possessed back then) came into action, trying to make sense of the situation. I looked at the recipe again. Did they intend us to make salty cake? You never know what trends pick up and suddenly you are the uncool one not knowing that salty cakes are being eaten all over the world. The ingredients however did not reflect anything of that manner. It was meant to be a boring old sweet cake.

What in there could I have goofed up?

Of course, I had put in salt. But what had I not put in? The only two contents that were white were flour, rice flour and sugar. I knew what sugar looked like – grainy. I was specifically given the jar for the all purpose flour from the storage room by our cook. The only thing that I hadn’t seen before was rice flour. I remember having opened the cabinet in front and picking out the first white thing I saw thinking it to be rice flour.

“Mom. Where is the rice flour?” I asked.

She went to another cabinet and showed me a jar. My worst fears that had culminated in that 10 minutes had come true. Instead of a cup of rice flour, I had used a cup of salt. My friends were to arrive in half an hour. I tearfully threw this cake into the dustbin, with a sense of valour rising up in me.

At least I know what rice flour looks like, I thought, my head held up high.  (If you wish, you can imagine some motivational song playing in the background to blend in with the sense of valour that had risen in me.)

I took in a deep breath and some tea and started again. My friends thankfully(and predictably) arrived late. I had a cake ready for them by the time they came. Needless to say, the cake’s name was fancier than the actual cake. But at least it was not salty.

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