Saturday, June 1, 2013

Going without...

Several articles or incidents have featured recently about ‘going without’- without dyeing the grey, without cosmetics, without television and so on.  They made me smile for several reasons. 

Let’s take the grey hair first.  Frequent advice that I receive is, ‘Why don’t you dye, you’d look so much younger!’ The road to 60+ was not lined with marshmallow nor was I wafted along on a cloud. On the contrary, the road was sometimes rough and stormy, sometimes unlit and sometimes blocked.  Don’t get me wrong, there were broad and comfortable stretches too.  It was like most journeys and having reached where I am today, I see no reason to conceal the fact.  Staying grey was never a debate or a difficult decision.  I am just happy to be me.  Yet the articles on the subject all speak of the trauma of discovery, the inner conflict to dye or not to dye, the apparent distress at other’s comments, the daily struggle to look in the mirror and see an unfamiliar (undesired?) visage.  Weigh that against being tied to a bottle of colour, regular trips to the hairdresser, the anxious checking of roots to see whether they show, the constant attention to tresses that need extra care.  Nothing can compensate for the lightness of being and the freedom to be.  And what I’ve saved in costs can be happily spent on stuff for my crochet or reading.  Now that’s an unbeatable bonus!

Then there are the innumerable cosmetics that help us create that perfect mask.  According to my father, ‘war paint’!!  A trip to Europe, many years ago, revealed the fact that most women there hardly use cosmetics at all.  Perhaps moisturizer for excessive dryness, a dash of lipstick for a more formal occasions and dab of perfume to keep one sweet.  No wonder the cosmetic companies turned their attention to India.  Kohl or kajal, haldi/malai, mehendi and cochineal have been part of a tradition that goes way, way back.  I love the way we outline our eyes so dramatically and expressively and, yes, kajal is the one cosmetic I still advocate. But for the rest, I think that my laughter caused crow’s feet compensate for the furrows made by the endless perusal of manuscripts in the pursuit of printer’s devils.  Character maps the face and makes it readable. You know the person you are dealing with.  If you have ever spoken to a person who does not remove his or her sunglasses, you’ll know the feeling.  If you cannot see the eyes, you are groping in the dark – literally!  Bottomline?  There’s nothing like the fresh skin feeling that comes from knowing just natural soap and water and a brisk rub with a towel.

The third in the trilogy: giving up TV. Well, here I have to admit to an addiction: books.  Given the pull of a good book, TV comes in a very poor second, or third, or…. Once I get my nose between the pages, the hours just fly.  I get to visit people and places, real and imaginary; learn things I might never have discovered and experience the beauty of a language manipulated by skilful minds.  And the TV gathers dust.  Need I say more? 

May your days be as free of encumbrances and may you enjoy a life more natural, vibrant and filled with the joy of being the real you!