By Sarvesh Talreja Oct. 08, 2016
Balding in your 20s is years of being hustled oils by barbers balder than Anupam Kher and getting “treatment” in shitty buildings likely to collapse faster than you can say Dr Batra.
One sunny morning of my 22nd year on this planet, I found myself in front of a mirror with a trimmer in my hand. “Do you really want to do this,” the man in the mirror asked me. About 0.3 seconds later, a Dove ad voiceover saying “Bald is Beautiful” began relaying in my head with the energy of a Nike ad. I began to shave my head.
When you’re entering the perceived prime of your youth, balding is a pretty sad thing. It means years of being hustled fancy oils by barbers balder than Anupam Kher, getting “treatment” in shitty old buildings that are likely to collapse faster than you can say Dr Batra, and never ever going out with your head uncovered during the monsoon. It means wistfully dreaming of walking down a road without the need to pray that no strong gusts of wind come your way.
My maternal grandfather remains convinced that my balding was caused by my preference of drinking whisky neat. An annoying aunt said that she was glad that I “at least have hair on my face”.
There’s only so much one can take. One morning, after waking up from a nightmare where I was being forced to try on a wig that was somebody’s idea of self-respect in the ’70s, I decided I’d had enough. The transition from wanting a punk-rock mohawk to becoming a guy whose last subconscious thought was of a scalp carpet, was simply too much.
And so came to pass, the morning with the trimmer.
Later that night at dinner, my cheerful family greeted me with a polite surprise, which is a kinder way of saying that they were stunned into utter silence. It was incomprehensible to them that I had chosen to shave my head after a couple of years of “successful” treatment, the parameters for which were, “His scalp is showing JUST a little less. WHEEEE!”
There isn’t another way to look better, and it’ll only get you more female attention.
But while my family grinned and bore the shock, there was no escaping the middle-aged folks. Relatives, uncles in my building, and even people who interviewed me for jobs couldn’t resist letting my lack of hair become my distinctive feature, and therefore, something that deserves a comedic remark with as much wit as a dialogue from Mastizaade. One glib fella, who always asked me if I was still in college, decided it was okay to rub my head and say, “Just like your father, haaaaan?” It took a lot of self-control to not retort by rubbing his dome-like belly and repeating the same thing.
Friends were kinder. One even said I looked hot, an adjective I’m disappointed to report hasn’t been used for me since. Women, surprisingly, were the kindest. Since shaving my head, I’ve got generous head rubs, compliments on my appearance, and exceptionally loud laughs when I say I’ve just had a haircut. Plus, far more sex, although a gentleman never tells.
Things got better. I came across as audaciously confident to Friend #1, who was beginning to wonder what to do with his thinning crop. When I told him not to give a fuck and beat it to the punch by taking ownership of how his scalp should look, he appeared terrified and continued to let nature take its course.
While there’s still some outrage over fat-shaming Tanmay Bhat and roasting Tannishtha Chatterjee, the bald continue to suffer from a lack of dialogue. What we do get, however, are front-page ads in every newspaper. The sort that bear a subtext that my grandfather, my father, and I have some sort of genetic problem that needs “fixing.” When in fact, it’s the detail that makes us distinctive. No, Dove ad, not beautiful.
This lack of dialogue leads middle-aged dweebs to say I like look someone who has progeria; the kind who find it very, very funny when a bird shits on my bare head. It’s also okay for people to come up to me and wave a newspaper ad offering hair-restoration surgery. I’m aware that people have bigger and real problems, and I can only empathise with them more, each time someone grazes my hairline for longer than they ought to. I now know what women go through when they choose to show some cleavage.
I’m not advocating change in society, neither do I want to sit and talk about how society needs to be more sensitive to the balding. What I do want though, is for more men to shave their heads. Your scalp is your weapon to denting decades of bad jokes and needless humiliation. There isn’t another way to look better, and it’ll only get you more female attention. It’s also a great way to find out who needs their belly rubbed because they’re “Just like your father, haaaaan?”