Tag Archives: Better World

6 Reactions To My Bald Head

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In my last post, I wrote about how and why I donated my hair to cancer patients. So for the last few weeks, I’ve been going about my life as usual, just without hair. Let me tell you, this feels like nothing short of a social experiment! I should walk around with someone filming me on a GoPro all the time! I mean, seriously, those women who are looking for some attention, trust me… Go bald! Nothing like it to make not a few but ALL heads turn! I’ve had little kids asking to touch my head. I’ve had old ladies asking if the heat is more or less bearable without hair. I’ve had men offering me their rumaals to wipe sweat off mu head! I’ve had random strangers grinning at me or giving me hifi’s. But be warned… there are the others too.. I’ve also had women calling me shameless and disrespectful and men calling me uncultured. If I list out each encounter I’ve had, I’ll need days to type this out. So I thought I’d share general categories of the sort of reactions my bald head has received.

1. The Kings, Queens and Knaves of Judgmentia:

13mnwvI believe there is a land called Judgmentia where people believe that they were put on this Earth for the sole purpose of judging every act of every person around. I also believe that the Royal Family ruling this land has decided to walk free through the rest of the world, and I met some of them. These are the people who glared at me from across platforms, or scorned at me or even took the time to stop and abuse me. I am surprised at the amount of spite these people carry around! They behaved as if I’d done them some personal harm by being bald! One of these, a middle aged woman with a toddler in her arms actually stopped and told me, people like me were the reason she was scared to raise her daughter in this city. I mean no disrespect to anyone but every time I met one of these people, I found myself resisting the urge to kick their royal behinds!

2. The Masters of Assumption:

13mnqiThese aren’t as bad as the Royal Family of Judgmentia but they were an interesting bunch. These people saw me and immediately made up their minds about why I was bald. One woman chattily told me all about being a devout believer in Tirupathi, convinced that I had sheared off my head during a recent visit to the temple. When I told her I hadn’t been there, she just responded with a comical ‘oh!’ and no doubt jumped to the next assumption about me in her mind. One ridiculous woman thought I was a widow and berated me for wearing color (some customs in India require widows to lead a life of austerity after going bald and not wearing any colors). Another  man assumed I’d done this as a fashion statement and proceeded to lecture me. I didn’t bother to correct him; it’s none of his business even if this was a fashion choice and I told him so.

3. The Pointers and Starers:

13mo1bThis is the category I found most annoying. They hang around street corners and make no efforts to be discreet as they point, stare and often laugh at me as I pass by. I confronted a bunch of them and told them why I’m bald. Their reactions often bordered on the comical. Some even said sorry. But then there were so many of these that I stopped bothering to confront them.

4. The Well Meaning, Curious Types:

13mq5wI’m just about getting used to the staring. People stare at me all the time. If I make eye contact with them, I smile. Often, some people smile back, then talk. These people ask questions about why I am bald and listen to the answers. Some of these ask some of the random-est things.. does my head get goose flesh? if I scratch my head, can I feel it? seriously! But then, some ask for more information on hair donation, then smile and go their way. Two little girls I met on a Metro ride on my way to a meeting sat on either side of me and listened to my explanation then promptly turned to their mother and declared that they too wanted to donate their hair. I respect their mother who calmly told them that they should wait till their hair is long so that the wigs made could be long and pretty. These people aren’t  judgemental. Often just the opposite. I like these people. They are open to information and the choices other people make with their lives.

5. The Thankful:

13mpjcIts a little scary how many of these I met. On my way to work, I was telling a young lady about hair donation and a woman sitting across me got up and hugged me then told me that her daughter had cancer and thanked me for doing this. I didn’t know how to respond to her other than just returning her hug. There are so many people who have family or friends who’ve gone through or succumbed to cancer, its scary. Even within my friend circle there are those who’ve seen cancer up close and have sent me messages to thank me. These people have the most emotional reaction to me. One man actually offered to help me carry my laptop bag after he told me about his sister who had breast cancer. My heart goes out to these people and I wish them all the strength. If there was any other way I could help, I would.

6. The Smiley Faces and Thumbs ups:

FullSizeRenderThese are the happiest chance encounters that make my day. Random people walking past, throwing me a dazzling smile. They don’t even know why I am bald but they seem to like it. They smile, wink, even give me hifi’s at random. One woman told me I looked super cool as she walked past me. One guy winked at me and grinned as he walked by. Not in a creepy kinda way… just a happy wink. I have no idea what makes them so happy to see a bald woman but whatever it is, I’m glad these people exist.

 

 

To sum it up, from total douche-bags to people I feel like hugging, I’ve met a whole range of them. Normally, I just travel through the city never actually ‘meeting’ anyone. But it seems like a bald head comes with perks! I love all the attention.. I seriously do! But I must say, I am thankful for the people who don’t fall into any of these categories… People who have absolutely no reaction to my hair or their absence. These are the people who walk by, without reaction as if there is nothing to react to. Who view me as absolutely normal! And isn’t that what I am? I am just a woman who made a certain choice about the way I look. For whatever reason, I am bald and they are so fine with it, they don’t even care to turn and look! I’ve loved all this attention from everyone else but I can’t imagine what it must be like for a real cancer patient. With people judging, assuming and asking questions every turn of the way. No wonder they need wigs. I’ve given my hair today to save a woman from just such undue attention.. but I dream, not of a day when all cancer afflicted women have wigs to wear… but of a day when a bald woman walking down the street is no biggie!

I Donated My Hair… For Myself!

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I must have been 13 or 14 when I read ‘Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul’. I remember one story in particular. It was about a girl who shaved off her head to support her best friend who was going through cancer treatments. I then learnt that one could donate one’s hair to make wigs for cancer patients and I found myself toying with the idea of donating mine… but being a teen, I forgot all about it and moved on.

It’s been over a decade since that thought occurred to me. A lot of things happened. Most important among those,  I grew up and the world changed.

I woke up one day and terror attacks had become a reality. So had extinction of species, horrible disease outbreaks, natural calamities, gruesome, heartbreaking crimes against humans and animals, large-scale disasters, climate change and every other horrible thing that could happen to the planet. One morning I woke up and realized that this world isn’t a world anymore. It is just a jigsaw that was being held together by some glue that was now giving way and the pieces were steadily falling apart, breaking a beautiful ‘whole’ into a million tiny, ridiculously senseless pieces. This was around the same time I was old enough to know that I wanted to have a family; with a husband, children and pets. But every time I opened a newspaper, my heart quaked. I kept asking myself, is this the world I want to bring a child into? If I do, how do I explain to my baby why the world is the way it is? And when my kids ask what I did to stop it from being this way, what would I say? And I realized I didn’t have an answer for that day.

So I decided to prepare that answer. I few weeks ago, I turned 27. I decided to use the day as a starting point and did what I had wanted to do since the day I read that story about the girl who went bald for her friend. I donated my hair. I went to a salon, got it nicely washed and blow dried, braided and then sheared off. I gave them to ‘Cope With Cancer’ an organization that helps cancer patients, which includes making wigs for underprivileged women. Then I shared a picture on Facebook with details of what I’d done in the hope that more people would be encouraged to donate hair.

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It’s more fun than you’d think!

Then the comments and messages started pouring in. I expected the ‘kudos’ and ‘amazing’ responses. But then there were people who called me brave.. courageous… selfless… And I thought I should probably clarify myself here.

Donating my hair was NOT a selfless move. It is probably the most selfish thing I’ve ever done.

There is a big misunderstanding with the concept of ‘doing good’ these days. It is no longer something for you to do when you have extra resources. It is no longer an optional, extra curricular activity. Look around… the world is a playground with evil running rampant everywhere. Haven’t you heard of the epics? They talk of wars of Good verses Evil. Wars. Not tea parties, not conferences, not exchange of ideas. Wars. And no war was won by sitting calmly and tossing a bullet in every now and then. Make no mistake, this is a war!

If you open your eyes and see the world, you’d know the kind of decay that is ruining us. George Carlin told us how the planet doesn’t need saving; it will survive the human species and continue to exist.. it is we who are in trouble. And we will probably be the only species in the history of this planet to have destroyed ourselves! Is this the world you want to hand over to your children? A world doomed to finish them off? God knows, I don’t want that. I want them to have a world with hope. A world that is slowly being pieced back together. One that I feel proud in handing to them, not ashamed. I want it to be a gift to them, not a debt that I pass on! And I am waging a war of Good against Evil to be able to do that.

That is why I will do everything in my capacity to counter everything evil in this world. That’s why I donated my hair to counter one person who abandoned someone who’s sick. That is why I rescued a dog and gave him a home to negate one animal abandoned and hurt by a human. That is why I avoid plastic bags and reuse everything I can to counter those polluting the planet. I compliment random strangers to make them feel better to counter people who go out of their way to hurt others. I donate my clothes to organizations like Goonj that make good use of them to counter people who create senseless waste. This is not a list of amazing things I do because I am selfless. This is a list of my most selfish deeds. My inventory of ammunition against evil. This is how I fight.

I am NOT a selfless, kind gentle girl who likes to help. I am a selfish, ferocious goddess of war. I am tomorrow’s mother, fighting for my unborn children. Kindness, generosity, gentleness are not my attributes. They are my weapons of mass destruction. And I will keep fighting so that when my kid asks me, what did I do to save the world, I won’t have a helpless non-answer. I will have answers. And if you have any desire to face your children with your head held high, you’d join me. You’d do everything… EVERYTHING in your capacity to help. This is no longer a passive, ‘do it in your free time’ kind of Good… This is an active, ‘do it with every breath you’ve got’ kind of Good.

You don’t need me to tell you what to do. The list is there, all around. This is a war zone. Jump in, grab a weapon and give it your best. Adopt an animal, Adopt a child, stop using plastic, create a replacement for plastic, give someone a smile or give them a home, feed a hungry child or a hungry village, fight off a child molester, stand up for your domestically abused friend, save water, save energy, save a teen from drugs or save the world from a nuclear war… do whatever is in your capacity. No deed is too small. Every effort counts.

In a world that’s falling apart, mild selflessness won’t do. Be as aggressively selfish as you can; do it only for your own children and your honor in their eyes. But for the love of God, fight… Fight till the day an act of kindness and love doesn’t become a rarity that is hailed as ‘brave’ or ‘courageous’… but seen as the most normal thing to do. Fight… So that when our children wake up one fine morning, instead of finding a world that’s falling apart like a million, tiny, ridiculously senseless pieces of a jigsaw that no longer have a glue to hold them together, they will wake up to find a world that is healing… a world with the hope of a future…

 

Everyone Should Cook

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Everyone Should Cook

Cooking is not easy. Trust me, I’ve been doing it thrice a day, everyday for a while now. It involves planning, knowing what you have in the fridge and what you need to buy. It requires you to stand in the hot, stuffy kitchen, stirring that pot even as sweat runs down your spine. Sometimes, it isn’t even rewarding because things don’t always rise up or fall through as you had expected them to and you end up with unpalatable, bad smelling mush on a plate. That is bloody frustrating! Cooking is tough. And I’m not even talking about the Master Chef variety of cooking; That’s a whole different ball of wax! I’m talking about the everyday, three meals on the table kinda cooking. It’s tougher than most people think it is. Yet, I think everyone should cook.

Why, do you ask? It’s simple. I have a feeling that the world would be a better place if everyone cooked. It is character building. It makes you respect so many things about life. And teaches you so much more. First of all, It makes you respect the people who put food on your plate when you were little. It is humbling to say the least. You remember all those times where your mom slaved in the kitchen for hours to serve you dinner (And you hate yourself for having scrunched up your nose at the food back then because now you know just how much effort she took to feed you good food! When this happens, Go hug her if you can… or call her…) Cooking teaches you preparing, multitasking, thinking on your feet, patience and the beauty of symphony. It makes you a better person.

But beyond all that, I think cooking relaxes you in ways that most other things don’t. I know.. I just said it is very difficult… yet, it is relaxing. It is soothing. Quoting from Julie and Julia: “I love that after a day when nothing is sure – and when I say ‘nothing’ I mean nothing – you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It’s such a comfort”

Don’t you ever have those days when nothing is going as per plan? Trains get delayed. Unseasonal rain drenches your precious charts. Crappy meetings are followed by crappy meetings and you meet absolutely no sweet strangers on your way home. In short, nothing happens the way you had wanted it to. When I have such days, I just put on my apron and step into my kitchen. I have a small kitchen but it is my little piece of heaven. I get in there and pull out my mixing bowls. For the record, I ALWAYS have baking supplies because baking is my comfort cooking. I mix my cake batter and even before I beat the eggs into it, I find myself humming. By the time the cake is in the oven, I have a smile on my face and when the timer dings to announce the rising of a fabulous cake, I am practically euphoric again! I planed to make a cake and I made it! My world is the right side up again! There is very little in the universe that comforts me like that does.

Trust me, learn to cook. The first few times will not be easy. There will be charred pans and burns on your arms. But eventually, if you keep at it, you will find your comfort recipe; the one thing that you find so comforting to make that it becomes a part of your muscle memory. Despite the craziness of it, I like my everyday cooking a lot. In a life so unsure and unstable, it gives me great joy in knowing that I hold the reigns. I am in charge. It gives me a sense of power and confidence even when I am making the simplest of things. But baking…. That’s my me-time. Some people like to chill with a drink… or read a book while drinking hot chocolate… I bake. And i am pretty good at it! You will never find me in a bad mood when I am baking. It makes me a better person!

So that is why I think everyone should cook because in the kitchen, once you find your comfort, you become a better person. And God knows, this world needs better people. Imagine this; the leaders of our nations, tired after a day of running the country, head to their respective kitchens and bake their way into relaxation. Then, sitting with each other at the end of the day, stress free, they’d make good decisions while eating their creations and making yummy noises… wouldn’t that be a good world to live in..?