The hairstyles, they are now changing

This radical shift in attitude is primarily responsible for the changes witnessed.

There are perceptible changes in life and lifestyles from one generation to the next. For someone who belongs to the Baby Boomer Generation, the transformation to Generation X is unbelievable and unpalatable at times—not to talk of xennials or millenials—as we were brought up in a conservative environment. It is to the credit or otherwise of the present generation that it has learnt to question anything told to them, while in stark contrast, many in the older generation mutely accepted whatever was said, taking them as statements of fact whose veracity need not be questioned.

This radical shift in attitude is primarily responsible for the changes witnessed. Back then, men seldom sported long hair unless they were saints, sages or scientists in the making. The young and the old invariably presented themselves with closely trimmed hair, popularly known as the crew cut, and had a clean-shaven face. Those who did not fall in line or the so-called rebels and vagabonds were frowned upon for moving around like hippies.

But gradually society has relaxed the norms, probably under Western influence, so that sporting long hair is not unusual today. It could be that in Western countries, men have long hair as a visit to the coiffeur is a rather costly affair unlike in India. Yet many have opted to embrace this trend in India, much like Valentine’s Day—which is alien to our rich cultural heritage. We even had the first National Beard Championship in Kozhikode a couple of years ago, where the contestants were judged by the length of the hair, its colour and their overall appearance.

I remember even as a schoolboy that I would be escorted to the coiffeur by my father on the first Sunday after he noticed my well-groomed hair touch the earlobes. At the salon, he would, as a routine, give clear-cut instructions for a close cut. Helplessly, I would see the hairdresser as a ‘sheep wool shearer’ raring to go. Over the years, this haircut routine has become a part of the monthly to-do list. The visible impact of such grooming could be seen in some of my classmates, who have developed the habit of periodically feeling the area around the ears with their fingers, to see if it was time for a visit to the coiffeur. The only person we all uniformly envy in our group is Ganesh Ratnam, who enjoys complete immunity from haircuts as he sports a shining bald pate.

M S VAIDYANATHAN
Email: maharajapuram.s.vaidyanathan@gmail.com

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