One Sunday morning she went red. And no, she wasn’t blushing. She woke up that morning with a single agenda.
“I want to colour my hair.”
And off we went to Happy in the head, a darling salon near National college in Bandra, Mumbai. The kind with cats aplenty and an adopted stray dog, and delicate Pinterest-y hair accessories with metal and feathers that shine and glimmer in the afternoon light. Hair stylists with dashes of pink and purple in their hair, some with Ariel-like flaming manes, eyes lined blue and lips painted red, scuttle about in little skirts and cropped jackets, snipping, chopping and styling hair, as they sway to a curated playlist. (What genre, I can’t recall now) Seems like a walk into Enid Blyton’s fairyland with pink haired pixies and slender blonde elves.
Anyway, so on that bright sunny afternoon, dressed in a navy shift dress with pretty white motifs and white sneakers, Sarah walks in for a consultation. And me, rather shoddily in old denim shorts follow her, with my less than perfect Moto G-2 camera phone in hand. All excited to click Sarah, cause she really pulls off her outfit well.
Check it out. And don’t miss those retro sunglasses. 😉
So we walk in and I see this couch on the left facing the counter. Piled with bags.
I move the bags and plant myself on the couch, as Sarah goes and gets her hair examined. Should she get a cut or colour or both?
And a girl with a freshly bleached crop looks at me with a wide smile, a towel draped about her shoulders, a happy mess of confusion and excitement, wondering aloud to Avani (the gorgeous owner) whether she should indeed leave her hair bleached blonde or go purple as planned.
I look about the salon, my eyes darting from one lovely hair stylist to the other. All in metallic sneakers and socks and bright hair and fun clothes while the words “the barber shop” high on the wall above stares down at us.
It seems like a place where a stardust bomb has gone off transforming a microscopic bit of Mumbai into little fairies and happiness.
No wonder the name, “Happy in the Head“, I think.
Sarah’s stylist Precy has the prettiest hair. Green. Who’d have thought GREEN out of all colours could look so adorable. I even featured her on my Everyday Showstoppers album on Facebook.
After seeing her, even I felt like colouring my hair green. Turns out, Precy coloured her hair in November! Imagine. November. And it still looks so good!
And that’s their resident dog. I forget its name.
Meanwhile, Sarah decides to colour her hair red.
So I wait outside on the bench as Sarah gets triangular bits of her hair on foil. Me basking in the happy spring sunshine, watching expectant women walk in. Each with starry eyes, their voices quivering, breathless with the possibility of the “perhaps” that can change the way they look in the next few hours.
The excitement is palpable. I can literally stretch my fingers out and grasp the anticipation that grips the waiting women. Some with curls, others with poker straight hair, some teenagers, others aunties.
These women probably have nothing in common. Except that they’re all probably high on the drug of possibility. Of change. Of previously unchartered territory. Of feeling empowered through something as seemingly small as the style of their hair. The thing, every woman has in her control – the power to transform herself at will. And in that tiny thing, lies the meaning of liberation. (Sometimes, at least)
And so I sit there, book in hand, but not doing it justice, as the world outside, for once, is so much more enticing.
I look up at the trees. On the swing opposite, a man is seated, waiting for his beautiful curly haired girlfriend (or wife?) who’s gone in for a haircut.
Yes, I had moved to the waiting area from my previously occupied couch-facing-reception stronghold. For two reasons. One, I felt sort of silly occupying a coveted spot when I wasn’t giving them any business. Two, I prefer natural air to air-conditioning.
We discuss hair. He says he’s had the same hairstyle for the past ten years! That’s when the bleached-crop lady walks out, her hair purple! I don’t recognise her until the gentleman points it out to me. “Oh!” I say, surprised.
And I wonder, it’s just hair. Why play it so safe? Hair grows. Waxing appointments, remember. So, why not colour, bleach, cut and transform your locks? Just as you change your outfit.
As I am thinking all this, Sarah steps out, her hair washed, gleaming in the afternoon sun. It’s got rich red streaks. Red-velvet cake, I think to myself, suddenly hungry.
Doesn’t she look just wonderful?
And so so happy?
I love her red-velvet and dark-chocolate hair. She didn’t even need to bleach it. So when it grows, it won’t turn the blonde-red monstrosity we shy away from.
I gather my bags and we head to Theobroma.
To get a slice of an actual red-velvet? Nah! We had the orange juice cake. On second thoughts, red velvet would have been a much better bet.
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So… what colour will you go this Sunday?
Think about it.