Brad Pitt, Arm Pitt and Others

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Read- 2:55 am. 

"Are you free tomorrow?"

"I am. Kinda sorta."

"Please to Explain. The kinda sorta bit."

"Don't you have the match to watch like the rest of the world?"

"I don't do cricket."

"I've a moustache that needs to be tended to by the parlour lady."

"That can be done during the day. I was thinking evening/night."

"Okay sure."

In the midst of my Invincible Summer, a man entered. Brave enough, he tried to shake things up by asking me out for dinner slash drinks slash both. To my misfortune, carbs, by ginormous quantity prevented the execution of his brevity. Date stood cancelled, and well, the fever saved me the dreaded trip to the parlour lady.

I could have within me an Invincible Summer and all that jazz. Only, I won't have in me is the metabolism slash courage to face the wrath of the parlour and the ladies who make the experience there, worth writing about. For all I know, that fever may have been up against my arse because of the thought of facing the parlour and the ladies in the morning, but I'll save the man that information (for all you know, he doesn't care).

I know, there are too many desi parlour tropes floating on the internet. BuzzFeed, Mallika Dua, ScoopWhoop and almost everyone with a voice and over thousand followers have written and contributed to the large repository of the parlour stories, memes, jokes and some such. However, we don't have people talking about parlour aesthetics amongst us. The sheer act of wanting to spend close to an hour with other women, half naked, willingly in a cramped room full of the nauseating scent of armpit sweat and talc. The joys of being born with an invincible Summer!

The thing about stepping inside a beauty parlour is, stripping clear of shame completely. For years together, I used to have a woman come home and tend to my body hair removal. I don't know why exactly that stopped, but I distinctly remember what re-started my trips to the parlour.

It was the Winter of 2014 or maybe 2013, and I'd accompanied May to her parlour in Amar Colony. A hole in the wall, the parlour ended before it started. There were two ladies handling the show for an aunty, an elderly lady who was most interested in knowing why their regular didn't show up for a whole month. The thing that I liked the most about the place was that there was no small talk. The whole reason why I decided to get someone to come over and avoid staring into the eyes of the person who's just witnessed the ingrowth of my pubes and other things. There's also the public watching you display your armpit which you've been coyly hiding for a fortnight now (where are those days now?). A healthy mix of embarrassment and shame added with the fear of living through small talk is what put me off for years.

This place was different.

The ladies handling your business were only interested in the 4x4 TV screen. Channel was selected as though someone was in a state of comatose and their relatives had lost the remote to the television. Each time I dropped by, these ladies were completely enamoured by whatever was playing on that screen. It was almost a relief to see them interested in something other than my blackheads, my tattoo, my discoloured feet, my pudgy stretch marks- everything. Going to them was like having a lover who wasn't interested you to ask for head, but just interested in going down on you and getting done with. That's how easy it was. Go, tell them what you want, let them do things to you. Next thing you know, you're set for the date. (as long as you top with a shower before stepping out of your house, please do that- please.)

That parlour where I used to go was analogous to single screen theatres, which are now getting extinct faster than the meteor that hit the dinosaurs. A rare phenomenon in a constantly shifting space like Delhi, these parlours are now a thing of ancient history or well the 90s.

A case in point, these parlours will not provide you magazines to read, coffee to drink or an unlimited supply of fresh towels. They will not have the ladies recommending you underarm wax strips at INR 500. Instead, they'll insist that you go for chocolate wax on your arms which cost only INR 30 more than the regular wax at INR 100. I have been paying 400 odd rupees to get my body squeaky clean and have survived. Meanwhile, the parlour next to where I work may just ask for that amount only to tend to my armpit hair and sweat.

Which means, there is a distinct class divide in these varieties of beauty parlours. For starters, INR 5oo for armpit places call themselves "Salon" or "Ladies Room" and the INR 2o for upper lips and eyebrows are still the humble parlour. The outfit to change into at these salons are clean, ironed and definitely worn once. The outfit in which they propose to wax your armpit hair off at these parlours have been worn at least seven times in a day. The rule of thumb is that if it smells clean, you'll be asked to wear it again, as the eight customer of the day.

Pro Tip- Like me, if you have been going to the dying breed of the parlour, carry your boxer briefs and vest to change into, better still wear it under your outfit. It truly helps with your mild case of OCD.

The other visible difference in the parlour and salon divide is that of visibility. In Pune, during my last trip, I'd dragged Ashmita Guha Neogi with me to get her waxed. We went to a parlour in a student colony, which was more chic than where I work at present. Not only did they have a designated space for waxing, they did not allow others to join in there to wait. At the parlour where I've been going (since 2014, where I accompanied May once), you strip almost publically. By the end of the hour, you'd have seen atleast half a dozen sets of legs with varying hair growth in and around. The most amazing part of that place is this table like thing, where you're made to stand, your head touching the room and the lady scoops out wax and slathers over your leg. The perfection with which she does, she puts me to shame, reminding me of the times, I missed a corner on the slice of bread while slapping marmalade. Utter perfection.

As all good things go, the ladies at the parlour I used to go to quit. May found another place, before that happened and switched. I was left with the choice of following the ladies or following May. I decided to go to the new space which is now owned by the lady who used to wax me. It's even smaller than the previous place (which is a miracle that such a space can exist), it's got no table, television or magazines. Just two chairs to service you, and a door to show yourself out. It does the job, almost as discreetly as you'd like for it to be. Nobody to judge your armpit, the boobage popping out while removing hair on the arms.

As for my pubes, they're not seeing the light of the day, cramped room or the eyes of anyone anytime soon.

No wax in over five weeks. Date night gotta wait till I'm mentally prepared to bare my soul legs to the ladies. 

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