Sunday, February 28, 2010


I've worn the same hair style since age 12, when I decided to be a dancer. I'm not very venturesome, but I adventured, experimented a lot, with far-out clothes.

My favorite head-turning outfits were thin cotton, wild print blouses and dresses from India, and also, voluminous, floating cotton, Indian culottes, with bangles, beads, and dangling earrings.

I love to buy clothes from India, and they love to buy ours -- but hair, according to my friend who owns a Greenwich Village boutique -- hair is the thing in India.

(My friend is a streaked blonde, with sparkles in her hair, nowadays.)

She says in Delhi, you make an appointment with Jawed Habib at his Cut It Out salon, or Priyanka Chopra, the expert in multi-color dye jobs. If you're brave, Siti Channel gives wild cuts wearing a blindfold, or you can try Doordarshan's "hair-cut with fire."

Or drop in at Vikram Mohan's Chaisalon. It's what "with it" people in India are doing these days.

In India, the salon or the barber-shop is no longer a chair in front of mirror that's stuck to a tree trunk. It's a spot with two or three places to sit, and an assortment of imported lotions, shampoos, hair dyes, wigs, weaves, and all the latest tools.

There are a dozen salons in Delhi, but Jawed Habib, who's a leader, is planning a chain of "Bounce" Salons in smaller cities and towns, where satellite television ads, and "Bollywood" celebrities have inspired the "Tier 2" hairstyling "IT" market, and the "Dhoni" Bollywood dream come true.

"Tier 2" -- "Dhoni?" What's "IT?" What's "Bolly" wood? My store-keeper friend used terms I'd never heard before.

Tier 2 is basically the people who use the longer, larger words and ideas (beyond simple basic cat, dog, house, baby English) -- words that appear in instruction books -- synonyms, antonyms, adjectives, adverbs that are useful in writing and talking. ( And handling the help-line phones for Dell computers, Microsoft, Earthlink, Time Warner, amd Verizon.)

And Dhoni? "Dhoni" was a small town boy who made a big name for himself, got fame and fortune, as the captain of the winning cricket-playing team in India.

"Bollywood" is a café in San Francisco -- an atmospheric meeting place, for food, music, and fun people. Bollywoods are cropping up everywhere in India, apparently, because of the exploding "IT" business.

"IT" is "information technology" -- if you have a computer, or high-speed Internet, you know what that is -- it's an intrinsic part of the Tier 2 world, that's expanding the middle-class in and around Bombay, Delhi and many of the smaller towns in India

Habib has 155 salons, 42 training academies, and Hair Espresso outlets (where cuts are only two dollars). The "IT" people, especially those doing help-line work, have "disposable income" (money left over after they've paid their basic bills).

My friend (for years, she's nagged me to cut my hair), said if I went to India, her hair stylist would tell me to get a "Rapunzel-Barbie doll cut." It's big with long-haired women in India right now. Men often ask for Bollywood superstar, Shah Rukh Khan's hair style. (Like us, most of the things they do to look good, are inspired by what's on TV and in the Movies.)

Since things in our world inspire India, will their "wild" hair become our latest fad? Will men be getting the Doordashan "fire cut" Are we going back to pink, orange, purple, green hair, or locks sprinkled with sparkle dust?

Where's it heading? Will Bosley hair weaves be advertised? What about "use it before you lose it" monoxidil?

Hair loss is the beginning of growing old. (I remember the days when "growing old" was something wonderful I looked forward to -- I wanted to be able to stay up late, pick out what to wear to school every day.)

In India, with Tier 2 people in the IT business, earning disposable money, dining at Bollywoods -- with their hair treatments, dyes, perms, fire cuts -- thinning hair is an inevitability. Though it sounds like progress in India, it sounds as if "punk" is coming back, and our out of date styles are going to be IN again -- boomeranging back and forth across the oceans.

My friend wasn't kidding about fire cut -- there's already a place that gives them in DC. Have a look.

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