I am sitting at the dining table with my books and papers scattered around on it, trying to set the question papers for the first mid-sem exams of the new batch.
The old batch already have finished their final exams conducted by the university. Now, they have an year to do a project, most likely in an industrial setting.
The newer batch looks more sedate, than the older batch. I do not know, they may turn out no different from their livelier seniors, as we go along on our common odyssey for the next few months.
The missus approaches me from behind, takes a long tuft of hair from the back of my neck and begins elaborately to plait it. “You look like an Einstein to me.”, pointing to the, alphas, gammas, the integral symbols, other hieroglyphics and the intricate curves and waveforms in the books and on the sheets lying on the table before me.
“Agreed. I’ll visit the barber, today, positively.”, I promise her. The word, barber sounds somewhat barbarous to me. ‘Hair-dresser”, instead would be more appropriate. At least it would not remind you of Bapu’s cartoons about people who lose their ears to the barber’s scalpel and search for them in the waste basket in the saloon.
“On second thoughts, you look also like Nagarjuna in Bhakta Rama Dasu.”, the missus gushes.
” I’m flattered. But, his locks in the movie, I remember, were jet dark, not silvery. Now, if you kindly leave me alone. I’ll finish my work and be on my way to the saloon.”
” No way. Do your work later. there is enough time for it. Leave, now.”, she fiats.
I shrug, and get up. Lovelocks and tendrils falling on to your forehead are after all, too sissy for virile males.
For all I know, Rama Dasu would not have worn his hair the way Nagarjuna did in the movie.Instead, I feel he might have had his scalp shaven cleanly half way up from his forehead, leaving a long tuft of hair extending back to his shoulders, somewhat like the warriors in the movies of old China. But instead of grooming it into a dainty ‘Satyabhama Valjeda’, like the Chinese war lords, Rama Dasu would have just tied it into a perfunctory knot. Now and then perhaps, he would have tucked a bright red hibiscus flower, (already having been offered in prayer to his dear Lord Sri Bhadradri Rama.) into the knot. He would perhaps have put another such hibiscus or rose flower behind one of his ears, in devotion. It’s a pity this practice of securing a flower behind your ears, now invites sneers. and derision, thanks to Jandhyala movies..
But that is another matter. Times change, you see,but still in their hearts-of-hearts, most men are fond of long, thick ropes of hair plaited into a gleaming Jeda (enticing like a serpent of yore in a celestial garden) , even if it is sported by a female. If you don’t believe me view this YouTube clip from Bapu’s movie, ‘Radha Gopalam.’ ,
Or, ask Cinare, who ardently wrote, in the movie, Ekavira, ‘ Nee nallani valjeda sandula mallianai nilavaalani.’ meaning, “I crave to stay enmeshed among the strands of your dark plaits, becoming a jasmine.”
As regards the hair style of Rama Dasu, that I have conjured up for you above, this ancient hair style is still sported by diehard old-timers and many of the priests, both Vaishnavite and Shivaite. And I remembered to have read some decades ago, that the great singer of yester years, Ghantasala, in the early years of his movie career used to sport a hair style like this, which we call lovingly as , ‘ mundu wasaaraa, venaka mucchata mudi.’, ( a neat verandah in the front and a dainty knot behind), before he was persuaded by his well-wishers to change to a more modern style on the plea that his old hair style was not very appropriate to his glitzy career in movies.
Coming back to the Chinese, I am sure the valorous lords must have had their aft-locks scented, oiled and plaited by tender feminine hands, there is nothing sissy in this, mind you.Ditto, with some of the devout priests of India.Ladies, indeed love to get into men’s hair, and believe me, it is a pleasure to have yourself groomed and pecked by a hen, so to say.
Some years ago while in the States, on being as usual prodded by the missus to get my hair cut, I went to the nearest saloon and found it to be manned(?) by a small, graceful Chinese lady. There were no other customers waiting. So the lady took a long earnest time and deftly fleeced, sheared, cut and shaved my locks with a number of glitzy implements. At long last after she finished her work of art. she watered, and combed what little remained n my scalp, carefully. Then she walked a little distance away to get a perspective, and appreciatively said, ” You look very, very smart.”, while looking strategically at the poster on the wall which said, “A minimum tip of five dollars will be appreciated.”