It is mid 19th century, 1857 to be precise, a sepoy in the army of East India Company rebelled against his employer and invoked the first cry of independence. Fast forward to 2004, Mysore, a graphic designer in his late twenties. Can you believe the former affecting latter's identity nearly a century and half later?
Believe me, it can. I am that graphic designer who was affected by the life of Mangal Pandey. Well, I have to confide that the influence was only skin deep. Last year, if you could remember, there was a series of ads of Titan wrist watches featuring Aamir Khan with a flowing mane. He had grown that hair to portray the character of Mangal Pandey in his recently released movie 'Mangal Pandey - The Rising.' Before that I was toying with the idea of growing hair, but every time my hair grew more than four inches I would run to my barber and hang my head in supplication before his hair-hungry scissors.
Aamir came to my rescue as a hairy messiah and preached me the golden rule to grow long hair - have patience. In an interview he had said that his patience helped him to grow long hair. I took it as a challenge and a test of my patience and in March 2004 I decided, come what may, I will have long, beautiful hair (as a kid I always wanted to marry a girl with knee-long hair).
My hair grew and grew, first few months it was very irritating to look myself in the mirror. They were going haywire; everytime I washed my hair, I had to literally douse my head in a vat of hair-oil otherwise I looked like I had been freshly electrocuted. So on and so forth, slowly but steadily my hair grew longer and longer and everyone started ooh-aahing on my hair. I smiled to myself whenever my hair bounced. Few of my friends were unabashedly envious of my growing (literally) popularity. Proportionately grew my woes of taking care of my mane which I suffered in silence.
Daily shampooing, dryness of hair, sticky and smelly hair oil, it took nearly 30 minutes of extra time to get ready every morning. I am a late riser and extra time for my hair care meant my productive day started at 12.00 noon.
Sometime back when I was in Bangalore, I went to a trendy hair salon to get a hip hair style. The experience was more of a shock than anything else. I was advised to go in for a thorough conditioning and straightening of my hair after only which, I was told, styling the hair had to be attempted. I was all excited, but suspicion crept into my paranoid mind and I blurted out asking the cost involved for the entire process. My jaw dropped to the ground when I was told that it will cost a whopping Rs. 2500. Goodness, gracious! I can get haircuts for my entire lifetime (don't mind a little exaggeration) with that much amount, back home. I scooted out from there, not before shelling out Rs. 250 for the paltry hair-trim (it's day-light robbery, I know).
Finally, it was the day of reckoning - 17 August 2005. The satanic blades descended from their cold, dark, steely dwelling straight onto my crest. The satisfactory laughter of my jealous friends filled my ear as each and every strand of my goldy-locks were felled to the ground. Within two-three minutes it was over. My head which was like a dense rainforest now resembled the parched Sahara. The labour of nearly eighteen months lay lifeless strewn all across me; I had a final farewell glance at them and left the place feeling light headed.