By Vikram Muthanna
I go to a barber shop called ‘Big Boss’ right behind my office in Bannimantap. And they do a pretty good job of keeping me pretty, or at least I thought so… until I visited a local fancy hotel’s in-house barber shop or as we ‘neo-sophisticated’ Mysureans call ‘Saaay LON.’
As I walked in, there was a curtain separating the room and I got a peek of the other side where I saw a man with his legs and arms wrapped in aluminium foil, like he was kalmi kebab.
I asked the barber or as we now call them ‘stylist,’ what was cooking behind the curtain. He said pedicure and manicure. I always thought these were girly treatments and felt that any man who gets a manicure is simply curing himself out of being a man.
I then asked the stylist how much it cost and how long it takes — it turns out it’s quite expensive and takes quite a bit of time. So I peeped in to see who this rich and leisurely man was and again I was taken aback… it was Lord Krishna!
Inside sat a man covered in foil, with a lady pampering his feet, another massaging his neck, while another was applying a thick face-mask making him look like a butter-plastered Krishna idol in temples. I was confused, curious and kind of envious. I got a quick haircut and after paying the bill I did not leave. I stayed back to get a darshan of Lord Krishna !
Half an hour later…he emerged…de-foiled…de-stressed…and de-buttered …in full ‘ashy’ glory. Yes, they had applied talcum powder on his dark skin, which made him look like he was driving straight to Rangayana to play the part of Lord Krishna in an epic drama. Only the flute was missing… then the devil inside me mocked saying, “Well now that he has been ‘man-cured’ may be he doesn’t have one anymore.”
Initially after staring at him with shock, it turned into awe as I noticed he looked clean and smart. His finger nails looked well cut and clean. And as he sat down to wear his shoe his heel and toes looked smooth and pristine. Then it hit me, this man I was mocking was much better groomed than me. This Lord Krishna, a rather uncanny ash-faced metrosexual had inspired me. I too wanted to be ‘man-cured.’
So I called a friend and asked if he wanted to join me in my metrosexual adventure and he agreed. By the way, metrosexual is a word coined in the early 1990s by combining two words ‘metropolitan’ and ‘sexual’ to describe an urban man who is meticulous about his grooming and appearance.
I asked my wife where to start. She said do a Brazilian. I was confused and excited. I thought my wife had given me permission to cheat on her and that Brazilian women taught tricks that my wife would like me to perform.
Well it turns out my wife was a sadist because ‘Brazilian’ is a type of waxing where every hair on your body except the ones on your head and face are stripped away! Yes, every nook, corner and crevice is cleaned out with hot wax.
Now, I was wondering who is doing this hair-razing job? And who is getting this done? After all, which man has the guts to let his central business district be flooded with hot wax and then painfully stripped of its follicular residents? The very thought made me cringe in pain.
Well, as I was not ready to let anyone run riot in my down town area I chose only chest waxing. And so I began looking for a person who waxes men.
My friend said there was a person on Ashoka road who does it. Ashoka road is known for hardware stores but all we wanted was to be de-follicled not have our taps twisted.
Still we went to Ashoka road to check it out. And lo, it turned out to be a lady named ‘Wax Nirmala’! She said she charges Rs.3,500 to wax chest and back…per person. It seemed very pricey. So with an awkward smile I asked her if she could reduce the price for me as I’m not hairy like my friend whose chest hair was staring right at her from in-between his shirt buttons.
She didn’t budge so I left. But as we were leaving she asked “First night ah?” I said no and then a man near her said “Romam purusha lakshanam kanreee” (Body hair is a sign of manliness) to which I pointed at my friend and said “Athi romam kapi lakshanam” (too much body hair is sign of a primate). To this the cocky old man retorted, “Roma heenam shanda lakshanam” (being a hairless man is sign of a eunuch). We shut our mouth and left feeling like Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan prepared to face all the rumours that may spread.
Unable to find a male-waxer, I called my friend Nandita who runs Nandita’s chain of beauty salons. She said they wax men in her parlour at Sandesh de Prince. We reached Nandita’s and my friend went first. Soon he was screaming. I went in to check on him but was petrified seeing his chest red and bruised. Also he was sweating profusely because of which the wax was not sticking and every time they pulled the wax off only partial hair was coming out. Soon they rushed him to an AC room that was already cooled to stop the sweating.
Next it was my turn and I started panicking. Now unable to back out from the challenge I did what any self-respecting married man in his 30s would do … I called my wife for moral support.
I was so panicked that when my wife came I told her to tell the ‘doctors’ to wax me in the ICU…when what I actually wanted to say was “Tell the girls I want to be waxed in the AC room.” Surprisingly, it all went off smooth, the result was radiating as I looked in the mirror. My body looked like a pre-pubescent Muthanna. I turned to my wife and proudly said, “See now you have a newer, cleaner and younger looking husband.” She replied, “You look like a hairless Sphynx cat.” I was disappointed but not disheartened. There was some more work to be done.
We then went shopping for trimmers for those hard-to-see places. I googled and chose a Phillips trimmer because it had the best sales pitch that said, “Trims the weeds so close it makes the tree look big.” So yes, ever since then I feel I have a Baobab tree between my legs ….ah! I’m sure some of you will google ‘Baobab’ tree and then I’m sure you’d want to meet me.
Later we went for a pedicure and manicure where we engaged the ‘stylist’ in a conversation. We learnt that even in a city like Mysuru men have started grooming themselves. They said now they have as many male clients as female! Yes, men too have discovered the joys of being primmed and pampered. The recent sprouting of spas and salons in our city is proof of that.
As we went about this metrosexual experiment I realised today Indian males have changed. The sheer number of grooming products for men is mind-boggling. There are hair removal creams for men. There are after-shave moisturisers for men. There are shaving creams for your body such as Gillette’s Body Men’s Shave Gel and an after-body shave cream called Twig and Berries Manscape Balm!
Hell, there are shaving creams specifically for men’s private areas such as ‘Axe Chilled Shave Gel’ and after the shave if you want them to shine like the crown jewels, then you have an after-shave cream called ‘Junk Stuff.’ Apart from these there are a host of trimmers for each region of a man’s body, from nose to ear to pits to pods.
All this is fantastic because now even men have the same pressures that women face. Today if you are not well-groomed, then well-groomed girls don’t want you. And that’s the way it should be. After all, well-groomed is also a sign of good hygiene which most Indian men were lacking until now.
In India today the male cosmetic industry is said to be close to Rs. 5,000 crore! In fact men between the age of 18 to 25 spend more money on grooming and personal care products than women in India! Also it is estimated that about 25-30% of total salon business comes from men’s treatment!
For now, I have had enough of waxing. Never again. I shall stick to my ‘Big Boss’ and a few trimmers that claim to visually achieve what God did not endow physically.