Bald and Beautiful

My first exposure to some one 'bald' was my classmate and friend in early school, Archibald. For some strange reason, we called him 'baldie' despite the thick shook of hair on his crown. I had occasion to remember the guy because of the 'bald' turn the conversation look one night at Vicky's party, when everyone present had something to say on the ethos and the pathos of baldies - their virtues, joys and sorrors, and on the causes and the cures for baldness.

Malti spoke of the baldies club whose members, according to her, had to belong to either of the three categories: Sunshine, Moonshine or No-shine. Sunshine, she said, were those who were totally bald - the type that in my youth I preferred calling 'carrom boards' - the over with no hair at all, the perfect smooth heads, about whom more later. Monshine were the ones who were bald on top but had hair on the back and sides. And No-shine were moon-shiners who did not permit the shine to show, who grew their hair on one side and combed it across the pate carefully to cover the baldness, plastering it down to prevent it from being blown out of place by the wind.

"My friend Bhisham with a shiny top on whom goddess Laxmi has abundantly smiled to afford him a life-style beyond compare, attributes his loss of hair." I said, " to the hard work he had to put in - a small price to pay, according to him - to earn the riches he has amassed." I added that " no wonder riches are not writ in my destiny: must be because of the thick growth on my own top." But Rani wasn't amused at his. " If that were so, " she said, " my husband who had lost it all at eighteen itself should have hit the big time then" She went on to confess that there was no evidence, then of the wealth that goes with baldness, when she fell in love an married him later, even though he was" bald as a coot".

Everyone agreed, when signs of loosing hair first appear, one senses in people a paranoia that drives them to resort to all sorts of remedies, to take all measures, to arrest the trend. People going bald can go to any length to hide the fact or try and get their hair back. From use of ayurvedic oils to tantrik concoctions, from scientific remedies to superstition. Some transplant. And if nothing worked, then finally resort to wearing a wing. The majority were inclined to believe that heredity was a dominant factor. Some believed that the drinking water tended to influence the quality of the crop on one's head. Coastal people were more prone to baldness, so it was felt, because of the saline content in the water and in the air along the coastline.

In our earlier days though, not everyone was afraid of balding. In fact, some sought it. Like the Capuchins who wore their hair as St. Francis of Assissi did. It was fashion for young seminarians who had just embraced priesthood to be tonsured. Some took real pains to acquire that bald patch at the back of their head, resorting even to painful plucking.


Cousine Ray, who early detected his 'upstairs' going thin, giving way to that hereditary weakness, and countered it by letting the fuzz around his face grow in a comely way to suit his Naval Uniform, has yet another theory on baldies. According to him, those who have a bald spot or a tonsure are thinker, those forehead and a receding hairline are the intellectuals, and those with both, the bald spot and the receding hairline meeting, are the ones who "think they are intellectuals". And talking of beards, the chinese have recently floated a theory on the basis of the findings in a survey, that baldness and beards go together, meaning to say, the majority of those who grow beards will invariably hard to sport a bald top.

" A bald head is soon shaven" says an old 17th century English proverb. That being so, I am intrigued the way the police barber who spends not more than 15 minutes on my crew-cut, spends at least two hours on the hair-cut of a colleague who is blessed with a 'perfect head'

That brings me to the best on baldies I have hitherto come across-a quote that Election Commissioner T.N. Seshan recently used in one of his inimitable interviews, borrowed from that poster depicting the bald eagle with a slogan saying: "Bald is beautiful. God only made so many perfect heads. The rest he covered with hair" The poster, which still stands taped on to the steel wardrobe that any wife's uncle Stan left with us before migrating to America years ago, was given to him by his son as a birthday present, to show how much he need to be proud of his own perfect head.

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Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com




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