Splitting hairs in this Spring Term


I'm back, and with a resolution that I'll try and post every week. There was coursework for the autumn term that had to be turned in by 18-Jan, and now that is behind me. It has taken some adjustment to go back to being a student after a gap of thirty years. I must add that it wasn't easy for me to be a student back then either.

To write my coursework I sat at home in Bangalore, and also I spent a week on the plantation in Malnad—for the silence there. But the more silent a place, the more noise you hear. By day, there was for instance the sound of tractors coming and going in the distance, and the rending sounds of the tractor's trailer falling apart and back unto itself. In the night the crickets took over, starting their din right from sunset. I wrote there, but not so much more than I wrote in Bangalore. Still, it was good experience writing in Malnad. I thought of Tejaswi who shunned the city and did his reading and writing and conducted all his affairs in Mudigere. I am tempted to settle down similarly.

During a break between tasks related to my coursework, I learnt to shear my head.

The last haircut that I had was at Vatican Hairdressing, right before the Cathedral in Canterbury. A comely young lady cut my hair with great concentration (squinting, genuflecting, reflecting on the effects of a snip from various angles) and made something out of my head that I've not been able to achieve for the rest of me these recent years. She made me appear a few days younger. But, with all her focus, for the now-forming baldness on the back of my crown she could only achieve a brush-back. Which made me wonder if it is worth it to pay twenty-odd pounds every month toward a losing cause.

The High Street of Canterbury ends at Mercery Street and the Cathedral, which is where Vatican Hairdressing is. And at the start of High Street, at the West Gate of the old town, there is a Turkish saloon. I have wanted to go in and ask them what the Turkish Haircut is which they advertise on their board on their front, but I've been reluctant to mess with the strong men who work there with old-type razors. At Turkish it costs a third of what it costs at Vatican, but you don't want to go supine for a haircut and have everyone watch you from the street. Turkish Hairdressers have an all-glass front with no curtains. I'm not going to lie down there even if they offer the Ottoman cut. Or the Ataturk look.

All things considered, I thought it best to follow the dictum of the owner of Vatican Hairdressing: Make your hair your religion, he says on his website. With that one line he made my decision for me, brought to mind the courage in the first haircut Gandhiji administered himself, and now I have done my head twice by my own hand. With help from an able Philips trimmer, I've mastered the buzz cut, which I perform at setting 4. I feel such power after this achievement, there's no looking back for me in this regard.

With my head so altered, I'm pretty much ready for the term just begun. The University calls it the Spring Term. It's rather cold at the moment, and snowing like the Arctic snow is looking for a new home.