Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas reds

After a long time, I had a nice Christmas yesterday.

Ben is in town. So he invited me to attend the morning service and I gladly agreed.

There are many things I missed about Christmas back home in all these years of being-away-on-Christmas-time. But, I guess what I missed most, what made it so bluesy for me, was the midnight mass at St.Paul's. Somehow, at this time of the year, I feel like going to a Church, to the decorated Christmas tree, to the nativity scenes..

Maybe it is a result of childhood conditioning by cane-wielding Jesuit brothers. Maybe it is part of my city which lives in me, where everyone regardless of religion gather in celebration at an illuminated Park Street and St. Paul's Cathedral on Christmas eve. Whatever it is, I realised yesterday, that attending Church is important for me on Christmas. It is what makes Christmas "good" to me.

Thanks to Ben and Samanda, for tagging me along.

Oh, and we also sang carols!

The last time I remember singing carols (in a formal setting) dates to my nursery years at school. I had been selected for the choir. I was darn excited. Not for being in the choir, that was collateral; what mattered was I would get to wear a bow-tie ! Now, that, when you are a kid of 4, is an event. It is an event which propels you from the world of elastic string-fake knot-tie kids to the world of bow-tie men. Understandably, bow tie was for me the ultimate grown up clothing item.
My excitement continued even after the school show when I refused to part with my bow-tie for days. I would have probably worn it for years to come (and even considered a career in billiards), had it not been for my sister. She revealed to me the terrible truth.."the only men who wear bow-ties these days are waiters". My dream was shattered. My wear-the-bow-tie-with-everything days were over.

Anyway, yesterday we all sang carols together. It was good fun.

The rest of the day involved a nice lunch with Ben and Sam and an evening of brandy and movies with Prabhat and Saurabh. Nothing fancy, no partying.

But, this Christmas was warm.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Christmas blues

Last few weeks have been hectic..friends from all over the country were here. Lots of pork, tingmo, shabalay, beer and whiskey. Frenzied clubbing, stag nights, long drives, hookah evenings and conversations till the wee hours of morning.
And now...just before all grows cold.
My Christmas jinx continues...since 2003..Christmas hasn't been particularly merry.
Last five were spent parting, being stranded for 30 hours in the airport, forgettable, homesick,lonely...
Yet another cold Christmas stares me in the face, but at least I'm going home for the New Year.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Life as a Longhair

I once read on a website, that long haired men with hair length going beyond their shoulders, constitute about 2-3 % of the adult male population of the world. This basically means we are a minority and therefore it is not uncommon to face discrimination.

Life, as such, is not very easy as a longhair. Surprising, because I inhabit a country which is home to the Sikh, an entire community of men who sport long hair because of their religion.

Indian history has always portrayed their men and gods as long haired (with the exception of the priestly class) and it was only post-colonisation that short hair became the norm for men. Yet, Indian society chooses to forget the past and hang on to its Victorian attitudes.

Unless you are a sadhu or a Sikh, Indian society is quite intolerant of long haired men. You will be accepted as you are by a select few. The majority will either stereotype, rebuke, make fun of or try to reform you.

In my 4 years as a longhair, I have faced many such a situation. Sometimes these slurs even come from your friends. I do not blame them, because as an Indian, you grow up in a peer group which subconsciously legitimises taunts.

These incidents range from those that made me angry to those that are simply hilarious.

This is one such hilarious one, at the end of it, I did not know what to reply.


When I was in my second year of post-grad college I had just about started to grow my hair for the first time. During this time, we had a class-trip to Maharashtra. On the way back from the trip, we had taken a train from Pune.

As usual, being a bunch of students on a daylong train journey with not much to do, we raised quite a ruckus. While some of our co-passengers did not mind the noisy banter, some were justifiably a bit irate.

After sometime, one such co-passenger, a punjabi woman in her late fifties, paid us a visit. She had come to ask us to keep it down a bit. But then her eyes fell on me..

She sat down beside me, and referring to me as "beta", asked me the reason for my long hair. Obviously, when you are referred to as a "son" by an elderly lady, wise crack replies and snarky comments (my defenses when random people ask me such questions) were not an option. So I tried to explain as best as I could. She did not listen. But what she told me thereafter left me dumbfounded.

" Men should not keep their hair long.
A man's virility is stored in his blood. And the hair on the head sucks blood from you. That is how it grows long, by sucking blood from the head and neck.
If you keep long hair, you will lose your masculinity.."

I could not reply. Faced with revelations on the vampiric nature of hair follicles, I had no counter arguments. Logic deserted me on the face of such arcane metaphysical wisdom.

All I could manage was a small whimpering
" Ok, I'll cut my hair when I get back".

On hearing which, she left. Happy,on having managed to quiten us down. Happier still, on being able to save a young man from losing his virility to vampiric hair.