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:
I 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:
These 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:
This 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:
I’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:
Its 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:
These 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!