Life brings with a plethora of experiences, each with a flavour of its own. I wish to share with all my readers these various experiences and observations that I have made during my time here on this planet. They may be funny, thought-provoking or simple reflections. I do hope you will find these enjoyable and interesting.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair

"Letting down my hair" - well, I seem to be doing that in various senses of the expression! :-D

Talk of a hair-raising tale.  I have been heir to the genes that code for this part of what I call "me".

As a kid, my mom used to keep my hair cut short and I used to be begging and pleading to grow my hair out looooooooooooong.  I could not wait for my hair to grow and would tie a towel on my head, tie both ends with ribbons and pretend it was my hair. :-P  Well, I have heard it said that the universe conspires to grant you whatever it is that you wish to have with all your heart.  Nature has blessed me with the right genes to ensure long, healthy hair.  So it was that my hair grew really long and I had two thick plaits when in school.

Somewhere during my pre-college days I got fed up of having such long hair and chopped it off.  I did not like the fact that my mom had to take care of it for me and I did not have the patience to do so myself.  Every weekend when mom tended to my washed, tangled hair, it was nothing short of torture.  (Due apologies to my mom - she took a lot of effort, but it was my hair that got tugged.  Am sure that was one reason for it growing so long).  Short hair was so much more convenient and practical.  Oh yes, the other side of the fence is always greener.  I gave off my plaits to two older friends who wanted to have hair extensions.  So that was 3 of us who were happy and a few unhappy people (including my mom, dad, many relatives and a few friends).  After all this behaviour did not behoove the heir to this rich, hairy legacy.  Besides, which self-respecting South Indian girl would chop off her long tresses?  (I can surely understand my mom being peeved after all the trouble she took on my insistence on having long hair)!

Chopping off one's hair came with inbuilt risks.  My niece who was just about a year old at that time kept looking at my face as soon as I came back home and could not decide whether she knew me or not, whether she wanted to come to me or not .....  Friends would ask "why?  you had suuuuchhh beautiful hair.  Not everyone is blessed that way!"  Oh sure, proves my point about the other side of the fence, doesn't it?  Yet another said "Oh, I would not have recognized you"!

It is not for nothing that I am born a Libran (according to the Hindu calendar).  I keep swinging from one extreme to another and am eternally trying to find a balance.  After chopping off my hair, I wanted to grow it out again.  I missed my long hair.  So the cycle was repeated till I decided after my master's that I really wanted to have my hair short again.  At the expense of my dad not talking to me for 3 whole days (till we had a visitor) I chopped it off again.  This time round, my hair was donated in the interests of culture - it were donated to my friend who is an dancer and practises the Bharatanatyam and Kathak styles of dance.  So my hair was never really wasted, was it?  It was always used for some good purpose. 

Round 3 of growing hair started soon after.  Somehow I could never maintain my hair at shoulder length and get it to look half decent.  I would end up tying it up into a pigtail at the back of my head.  So this time I let it grow really long - so long I could sit on my plait.  I had been a while in a hostel abroad, when I realized that I was losing a lot of hairs due to the change of water and having to sweep loads of them out of the carpet every weekend.  It just broke my heart.  So, off with my hair!  This time as a student, I thought I could do well with the money I could get selling it.  It fetched a pretty good sum.

Each time I cut my hair, I would miss my long hair and grow it out again.  Next time round, I just grew them waist length  and then started getting irritable in the summer heat when I returned home.  This time round I cut it off and ever since I have never wanted long hair ever again ..... till recently.  Of course my hair has grown long and shorter by a few inches from time to time and I have always feared the photograph on my passport would not look like me at various time points, but my travels have thankfully been pretty uneventful despite that.

Well, not too long ago, I once again started dreaming off and on about my hair growing really long.  This time I wondered whether there was any sense in my doing so.  What if I grew it and wanted to cut it off again?  So what?  As they say in Hindi "ghar ki kheti hai" (meaning it's your own farm - to grow or chop off as you like).  I would grow it and if I wanted to, I would chop it off.  The choice will always be mine.  In fact I would certainly cut it off - for a reason.  

I had been a regular blood donor till a few years ago.  Recently, due to certain health issues and the medications I have had to take, no one wants my blood. :-(  I was feeling pretty bad about this till I heard that one could donate hair to organizations for wigs for cancer patients.  In fact, I also read that Sunita Williams chopped off her hair in space to donate it to an ill child.  So my hair is going to grow till I can donate it to someone who would like to have it.  It would feel good to be able to give something that is entirely mine to give.  It would be one source of joy added to my life.

Is growing hair so easy?  Well, to an extent one has to be blessed with the right genetic traits.  That, however, by itself is not sufficient.  Growing hair out long implies that it has to be kept clean and maintained in a manner that makes it look healthy and shiny.  

The long and the short of it is that hair needs good care.  Here are some very simple and practical tips of day to day hair care at home.

  • Dandruff can be kept out by applying very sour yogurt to the hair before shampooing.  Alternatively lemon juice can also be applied.
  • Oil your hair well before shampooing.  It helps condition hair and is very cooling too.  Oil prepared with some ingredients like hibiscus flowers also help growth of hair  You can find the details here.
  • Mixing a yolk of an egg with coconut oil and applying it to the scalp for half an hour to an hour before shampooing helps hair grow out faster while also conditioning it well.
  • Washing your hair with soap nut conditions the hair and gives it a gloss without subjecting it to chemicals which can damage the hair.  It also ensures that your hair does not get completely stripped of natural oils.
  • Don't plait or tie up your hair when it is wet. 
  • Hair can be dried by tying it up in a towel and then letting it hang loose once all the excess water has been absorbed.  Alternatively, dry it out with a hair dryer (only if you must).  Ensure that you don't dry it too much with a dryer or you will end up damaging your hair.  Dry moderately and allow the remaining dampness to dry out on its own.
  • Don't tug at your hair when it is wet in an attempt to remove tangles.  Use a good conditioner which will help untangle the hair.  Gently untangle whatever tangles remain when the hair is almost dry.
  • Keep a watch out for split ends.  Keep trimming your hair so you can get rid of those.
Finally, hair, long or short is one's crowning glory.  Healthy hair is a reflection of good health.  While the texture and length of hair varies with individuals and their genetics, keeping them well tended and healthy is in one's own hands.  A healthy mop of hair can be an asset to the wearer or can be used to bring a twinkle into the eyes of someone who needs that hair on their heads.  You can do it too. :-D  

Submitted for the "Recharge your hair, recharge your life" contest