Getting past my manic mane worry

This laziness in labouring over the mane -- as grandmother’s love took great care of it -- cost me a sizable bit of volume loss when I relocated from Lucknow to Mumbai.

It’s one of my worst nightmares. Waking up with a bald patch smiling at me in the mirror.

People have heirloom recipes for creating dishes that dialogue with vintage perfection. My family had the treasured homemade hair serum guide that brought in manna for those follicles. I remember my grandmother subjecting my long, black hair to the lashings of the special oil, performing the brisk champi that could have woken up the dead, and arranging my hair in neat plaits that held every tiny strand hostage in an iron grip overnight, making me cycle off to school without even touching a comb. So, the growth was bountiful and beautiful. Much to the angst of the hirsute masses at the convent who longed for a lustrous crop.

This laziness in labouring over the mane — as grandmother’s love took great care of it — cost me a sizable bit of volume loss when I relocated from Lucknow to Mumbai. The water wreaked havoc, pulverising my hair into a dry, scaly mess. Add to that the rapid withering under the assault of heated hair tools during shoots. Came early morning classes and without hesitation, I innovated, sweeping my tresses into a smooth chignon. There was no time to comb, forget lavish attention on the scalp on an everyday basis. The knot at the nape looked stylish and saved me those few precious minutes wasted on brushing hair, as I sped towards the bus top to plonk myself inside the AC bus to college.  

Hopping hairstyles turned into a constant, with the folic acid intake during pregnancies bringing in  a voluminous, glossy swathe, and hormonal upswings subsequently penalising follicles. When the horrid clump loss set in a few months ago, I graduated to the bouts of hair-induced anger: hanger. Suddenly the head-turners turned thinner and parted in clumps. Nothing worked, even the hair confidential pots and potions. I tried everything, from scalp serum colonisers to hibiscus and onion juices to squirting serums that made my hair smell like sambar (courtesy the curry leaf infusions) to silk pillowcases and Moroccan oil for minimising breakage, glugging aliv seeds in milk, and popping in vitamins and homeopathic hair strengthening pills.

Shilpi Madan for The Sunday Standard

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