Friday, June 30, 2006

Straight Talk

I finally did it! I got my hair straightened!

I always had a desire to have soft, silky, straight hair. But I worried about the effect of all those chemicals and what they would do to my hair. And there was the horrible story about what a straightening treatment at VLCC did to this poor woman:

It all started when I woke up one day and decided I was bored with the way my hair looked. I have somewhat wavy and considerably frizzy hair and so it has spent the last 6 years (since I grew it out) neatly tied back in a ponytail in order to disguise the fact that every day was a bad hair day. I tried a lot of cuts and they would look good for a couple of weeks and then you would see the victorious return on the scrunchie. Before a party or sometimes just as a mood-enhancer, I would get my hair blow-dried or ironed but that was just a one-off that lasted till the next time I washed my hair.

So, as I was saying, I was bored. On Saturday, I went across to a fancy salon in Bandra and told them to give me a new look. They did a pretty good job and it looked really great…till I washed it. Back to the Land of Frizz! And now they had cut it so short that it would no longer submit to a scrunchie. So I finally decided to give the straightening a try. I went back to the same swanky salon since this was hardly the time to cut costs (and end up as another before-after horror story) and agreed to shell out a grand sum of Rs. 5000 to get soft, silky, straight hair.

Digression: I was just thinking how much the whole experience of hair styling has changed in the last decade or so. When I was in college, you went to a beauty parlour for your haircut and the hairdresser (as you called them then) was just one of the staff there who enjoyed seniority over the manicurists and the waxers and got larger tips. But today, there are specialised hair salons where the people who do your hair turn their noses up at terms like ‘hairdresser’ and ‘barber’ and prefer to be referred to as ‘stylists’. They are divas/ dons in their own right and usually look much cooler than the patrons – the average ‘stylist’ is dressed in low-waisted jeans, spaghetti-strapped tops, funky shoes and even funkier hair. And you get the feeling that they would be insulted if you tried to tip them...

Anyway back to the main subject of the post, the actual process of straightening, if done properly, takes a full four hours and you have to hold your head absolutely still for a large part of this time. It sounds easy enough but by the end of it all, your back and neck muscles are not too happy about the whole thing and make sure you know it!

The after-care is even more tedious. They give you a printout with a whole list of things that you can’t do for the next three days:

  • No washing of hair
  • No exercising
  • No swimming (just in case you didn’t figure that swimming would violate both of the above rules)
  • No steam/ sauna/ excessive sweating
  • No use of clips, scrunchies or hair bands
  • No helmets or shower caps
  • No unnecessary running of fingers through hair
  • No tucking of hair behind ears

Phew! Anyway, I somehow managed to get through a very tense three days where I have done all of the following weird things to keep my hair straight and dry (sounds like my hair is a recovering alcoholic!):

  • No showers, only bucket baths (no way to keep hair dry under the shower without a shower cap)
  • No washing of shoulders since some parts of the hair are in fact shoulder length
  • Only face wipes used to clean face
  • Umbrellas used even when it was not actually raining to protect hair from sudden showers and drops dripping off soaking wet trees (got quite a few strange looks with this one)
  • Removing hair from shoulder on which Ayaan was resting his head to protect hair from tears, saliva and snot (the cough and cold are better but still persist - thanks for all the good wishes and tips)
  • No gymming or unnecessary outdoor activities

Anyway, the three days are over and I have survived. I love my new hair. It falls softly around my face and is so manageable that I can survive without a comb. And what I love most are the compliments – and there have been a lot. Since this is my first self-indulgent post, let me continue being shameless and list down some of the nicer compliments:

  • "Wow! I didn’t recognise you"
  • You look so different – in a good way
  • This makes you look younger
  • Your face looks thinner
  • This cut really highlights your cheekbones
  • And my favourite “You look like a model”

I think I’ll stop now. :)

Oh and wait… here’s a picture…

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Long weekend

Ayaan was very sick this weekend. It all started with a cough and cold that he picked up from me earlier in the week but by Friday, it had turned into a hacking cough with a constant leaky nose. We took him to the doctor on Saturday evening and started him off on some baby cough syrup. By Sunday night, he was running a 101.6oF temperature. The fever continued to rise through Monday so we had to go to the doctor again who started him on antibiotics. The fever finally broke on Tuesday morning and by evening it was okay. The cough and cold are still there though but much better than before and improving by the hour. *knock on wood*

Monday was a really bad day though. Ayaan was really uneasy – I think his body must have been aching. He kept moaning almost throughout the day – even in his few snatches of restless sleep. It was heart breaking to hear him. The worst thing is that he didn’t have any way to tell me what was wrong or how I could make it better. I really want him to start talking soon - atleast then I can know what’s going on in that little head and body of his.

I also went through a lot of confusion about giving him the antibiotics (this is the second time we’ve had to). Of course, I only give them when I know that without them Ayaan will have to suffer unnecessary and prolonged discomfort before he gets better. Also, I am always scared that a chest infection and fever could get out of hand and result in something far more serious like pneumonia. And antibiotics are the only way to stop the illness in its tracks.

But I also know that antibiotics are a mixed bag – they cure but they also end up killing some of the good bacteria along with the harmful ones. And they can also reduce the body’s natural immunity in the long run. Both of the times, I gave him the antibiotics because I didn’t want him to keep suffering or get sicker but both of the times I was also left wondering whether I made the right decision…

Forgot to mention: Another thing I hate about the antibiotics is the part where I have to give them to Ayaan. He absolutely hates it. We have to hold him down and force it down his throat with a dropper. And then hold him down some more while he swallows it (let him up too soon and it all comes out of his mouth). He struggles and wriggles and screams through the whole thing. And even afterwards, it takes a while to calm him down. Nowadays, he sees me coming at him with the dropper and he runs in the opposite direction so now there is the added challenge of catching him first. With other medicines, I can mix them with his food but I can't do that with the antibiotics since getting the dosage right is important. I am waiting for the 5-day course to be done with!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Before and After

Now, a fun look at our Jaipur trip. The big event was Ayaan’s ‘mundan’. For the uninitiated, the ‘mundan’ is when you shave all the hair off the baby’s head. It’s an age-old tradition and supposedly causes the hair to grow back thicker and stronger.

My grandmother was rather keen that we do this for Ayaan. She was a bit disappointed with me since Ayaan had already crossed the one-year barrier by a couple of weeks (you are supposed to do the mundan either before the child turns a year old or else wait till after he's three). To add to that, you are supposed to leave the baby’s hair completely untouched from birth to this day and I had happily given Ayaan atleast 5 haircuts! So after a bit of nagging on that, we went ahead with it anyway. Here are some before-after pictures:

Here's Ayaan with a full head of hair...

Ayaan being prepped for the shave - the proverabial calm before the storm. Everyone told me he would cry a lot but I don’t think we were prepared for just how much. He cried and cried and cried…. and then cried some more. The whole process took over an hour because of the incessant wriggling and the out-of-control crying that forced us to take many breaks. Thankfully, towards the end, he fell asleep in my arms and the barber could put the finishing touches in peace.

Ayaan sans hair...

As for the grand weight-loss attempt with the GM diet, there is no before-after picture to show since the sum total of weight lost was ZERO. Can you imagine? I put myself through a week’s worth of torture and have nothing to show for it. A friend tells me that it happens with some people – something about the GM diet not suiting their metabolism. Back to the gym it is!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Mama Knows Best

Have you ever had that moment of utter and complete fear when your heart felt so big and beat so hard that you felt like it was going to jump into your throat?

On the first day of the Jaipur trip, Ayaan fell out of the cot. I was listening on the baby monitor, waiting for him to fall asleep when all of a sudden I heard a loud crash and a wail. I ran into the room to find him sitting on the floor and crying his heart out. I think I died a little in that moment. I picked him up and started to calm him but before I knew it, I was crying harder than he was. I felt terrible – scared that the fall might have done some lasting damage to my poor baby and guilty that I had left him in the cot, despite my instinct that it wasn’t entirely safe.

Ayaan has slept in this very same cot every time we go to Jaipur but this time he was much taller than the last time and also much more active so we measured our cot at home and realised that the one in Jaipur was shorter by 5 inches. It didn’t seem like much but I was tempted to take the travel cot along anyway. I finally decided not too for a couple of reasons. To start with, my mother told me that Ayaan would be okay since we (my brother and I) had slept in the very same cot till we were over two years old. But the major reason was much sillier than that. Ever since Ayaan was born, I have been getting a lot of flak from my family about how I am paranoid about him and that I worry too much him. Unfortunately, I picked this instance to care about what other people think and let that override my concern for Ayaan’s safety.

Anyway, Ayaan is fine. Thankfully, he fell on his bottom and not on his head. The doctor said that internal damage could be ruled out since Ayaan had none of the symptoms (inconsolable crying, vomiting and/ or convulsions). But my heart skips a beat (and not in a good way) every time I think about what could have happened…

I think I learnt an important lesson. It doesn’t matter what other people think about my parenting approach and skills. Ayaan is my responsibility and I need to trust my instincts as far as he is concerned. I know him better than anyone else in the world and I need to use this knowledge to keep him happy and safe.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Raising a reader

I am a strong believer that you can bring up your kids to love books and reading. And the younger you start, the better. If you leave it to them, the attraction of the colourful and moving images on the television will always win out over books. But it is up to parents to introduce their children to the joys of reading and teaching them that books can fire up their imaginations and ignite their minds in a way that television never can.

With Ayaan, I started reading to him when he was just three months old. I got a lot of sniggers from friends and family alike about this. I guess it looked silly to some people that I would waste good time and energy reading to a baby who had just about learnt to smile…

In the last month, I have really seen my efforts pay off. Ayaan loves being read to. Just the other day, the most amazing thing happened. I had just got home from office and was walking through the front door. Ayaan saw me, gave me a smile and then walked off into the adjoining room. I have to admit I was a little hurt – this was far from the effusive greeting I have become accustomed to. A few seconds elapsed and he came toddling back, holding up a book at me. He was asking me to read to him!

He is also getting more and more interactive and involved with the reading too:
  • For starters, he has grasped the concept of turning the page. His timing is not always perfect. Sometimes, he will turn the page before I am done reading and at other times, I have to say ‘Turn’ once I am done. But I think it’s pretty cool that he’s turning pages.

  • He has his favourite books (Goodnight Moon, Moo Baa La La La and Hippos go Berserk). So he will go across to the bookshelf, pick out a book and then decide whether that’s the one he wants to read. If not, he throws that one on the ground and keeps looking till he finds one that is interesting.
  • He often doesn’t want you to stop. After the last page is turned and you put the book down, he picks it up, turns your hand palm upwards and plops the book back in it. And then he starts to get fussy if you don’t read it again. Now this one is cute to a point, but after 5 readings of “Moo, Baa, La, La, La”, it can get a bit wearying.