When I wrote about “dealing with death” sometime back, I received a number of calls from a few of my friends as to how and why I even thought about dying. This piece, is dedicated to all of them who called, concerned.

Actually, around the same time that I wrote the blog, I was really very concerned with the actual process of ‘dyeing.’ Whether dyeing was a natural culmination of one’s accumulated graying process, or whether one has to accept the artificiality of it all, or whether dyeing could alter one’s life, etc, were all questions that were on my mind. Almost every day, I was being persuaded by a close friend, that dyeing, was good. It was only a question of colour, and brand.

I had just got transferred back to Chennai after nearly ten years, and I was worried – People should at least recognize me, and not pass me off as someone familiar, but that guy had black hair? Now, I can’t carry a placard to announce that I HAVE aged in these 10 years, and that shades of white and grey should not stand in the way of being recognized.

So there I was, faced with this vital question that would define my life, my beliefs, my values, my looks, and finally, my hair, and that was : Whether to dye my hair, or not!

I was asking myself the question, “To dye or not to dye?” , standing in front of the mirror, almost every day, since I have not just shades of grey, but sparkling white hair as well, on my head, which I try to conceal by applying coconut oil, so that the white shine can be easily confused with the black shine!

I have seen one of my friends take painstaking care to see that his moushtache was all black. He used to stand in front of the mirror for hours, douching the white hair on his moush with black dye. I have seen my neighbor who just doesn’t bother about his white hair – In fact, he says, that people give him respect for his age – despite the fact that he is only in his 40s.

But my inhibitions and fears about dyeing my hair black were washed away in the deluge of “dyed” heads that I saw when I came to Chennai on transfer. It was then, I realized, that Chennai has changed, and how! And here I was, debating a small issue of dyeing one’s hair black!  Here, people of all ages, whether young or old, dye their hair very religiously. The youngsters seem to be “dye-hard” fans of white colour! (Maybe it is their deep desire to get some respect from society?) – Even very young boys of today dye their hair in different colours, sending shock waves through the likes of me.

But despite all this, I must admit that I am a bit old fashioned when it comes to the colour of hair. A young executive with pink shockers of sideburns puts me off or for that matter, an outlandish young lady with green stripes on her hair. But this is the fashion today, whether we like it or not.

Anyway, I decided that I will not enter the holy black portals of hair dyeing, and decided to keep my hair, its natural colour – whether black, gray or white.

So, next time you see me browsing through the local store, rest assured that my hair colour is original – given by God!


28 responses »

  1. Thanks, Varun!

    The pollution in most cities today also contributes to fast balding!

  2. Varun Reddy says:

    I don’t have to worry about dy”e”ing – at the current rate of hair-loss that I am experiencing, I am gonna be bald by the age of 32-33… Atleast one issue I won’t have to think about in the near future…

    A laugh-riot indeed !

  3. Shernaz says:

    A witty piece. Just on Christmas eve we spotted an elderly lady with green streaks in her hair…yes, slow and sure, the coloring epideminc is spreading. Enjoyed reading this blog.

  4. vimala madon says:

    Enjoyable piece! I don’t care what people say but dyeing is among the strongest props to a woman’s self esteem. I may decide to grow old gracefully keeping my hair the way God decides, but that is still at least a decade away!

    Your observation about the brilliant hair colours that youngsters often display, esp in the west, reminds me of the joke where an elderly man keeps staring at this teen with spiky hair dyed purple and red and green. After a few minutes the young man asks insolently, ‘what’s the matter old man, you got a problem with me?’. To which the older man replied, ‘ Years ago when I was young I had sex with a parakeet and I was wondering if you were my son’.

  5. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    I always thought dyeing was camouflaging the truth! Old fashioned and righteous that I am. How I am glad that you decided not to…….! At least there is someone who is with me!!

    I always thought South Indians like Bengalis retain beautiful black hair helped by their food habit and the moist sea-side climate! Was I wrong?

    • Geetashree Madam,

      Nice to know your views that support my old fashioned “undyeing” attitude!

      You are partly right when you say that food habits of South Indians help them to retain black hair – but they are from Kerala, mostly, and not from Tamil Nadu. The people of Kerala (I lived in Kerala for 8 years till 2008) are very much like the Bengalis in their habits and culture. Fish is the staple diet, which sees to it that one doesn’t develope grey hair that easily. But then, these days, practically no one is free from pizzas/burgers/noodles and all other fast foods/junk foods which could be promoting the “elderly” look among the young, whether South Indian, North Indian, or east indian, for that matter!

  6. knot2share says:

    Om ji, what a funny piece! I am glad that you opted to not dye…Salt and Pepper effect does look very dignified :-). I have no idea what my reaction to that will be seeing myself in that effect..heheh…The spell has been cast on me and I can see the effect unfolding, as told by my faithful mirror.

    Actually I was quite surprised and still am, at the number of hairdressing appointments people have in their lives here. People voice it with so much passion and concern that I wonder if I am missing out on the experience. The poor hair is always under the iron or covered in foils or smeared with bleach or twisted in curls. It hardly gets time to be itself. I have seen some ridiculous colours on display while travelling on the train.

    Thank you for the funny post once again!

    • Thank you, Knot2share for your comments. I am really glad that you liked the post.

      Salt and pepper looks dignified? Nice to know that!

      And you are very right when you say that so much is being spoken about hair colour appointments, we sometimes wonder whether we are missing out on something! But, I am fully convinced that it is the “dyeing” people who miss out on being who they really are, by colouring their hair!

      We might even see the elderly gentleman with black coloured hair being asked to vacate his seat for the slightly younger gentleman with WHITE hair in a bus!….

  7. D.selvaraj says:

    Dear sir
    I am dyeing past 7yrs only in hair,but never changing my colours according to person to person only b’cas my friendship with intellectual person like u made me that.How Gandhiji is so beauty in his pokkaivai, like that ur handsome lies in ur original hair only. so congratulation for keeping orignality.
    wih articfical hair

  8. beyniaz says:

    Was dying to read this one! 🙂

  9. Smita Luthra says:

    Very witty piece! Enjoyed reading it. Loved the juxtaposition of “dying” and “dyeing” in the beginning.
    Personally I haven’t seen green or pink streaks in real life and I wonder how I will react when I see them. 🙂 But your narration brought home a smile.

    • Thank you, Madam, and I am really glad that you enjoyed the piece.

      Regarding the green or pink streaks, I am sure you will see them soon – they are spreading. I don’t want to sound the alarm like, “the martians are coming” – but definitely, the colouring epidemic, is on, and spreading – so, I believe it won’t be long before you get to see red heads and orange heads and green heads in town! 🙂

  10. A.Hari says:

    Quite interesting one. I am one of them who asked you about why you choose the ‘death’ topic. Now I am happy that you are back to life.

    One of my friend tried to ‘colour’ his hair to black. He applied the colouring agent and was shocked to find that his skin has turned white. He has been consulting several skin specialists to restore his original skin colour. So it is better to stay with your original and ‘true’ colours without changing anything.


    • Thanks, Hari. You were one of the friends who was concerned. I am grateful.

      I have seen many side effects of hair “colouring” on many of my friends, and so I can fully empathise with your friend and his hair colouring troubles. As you rightly said, it is better to stay with whatever colour one has, Naturally!

  11. Sonal Shree says:

    Hamlet’s dilemma striking Om albeit in a different context- to dye or not to dye.
    Interesting twist of words.

  12. Sneha says:

    Dear Om ji, (No, I’m not writing ji because you mentioned you have greying hair)

    The thought paradigms of a writer can move so quick from dyeing to dying !
    I remember an incident, when in my childhood, we’d had a puja for not dying soon. When I asked my mom again, she told me, its so that we don’t ‘dye’ our hair soon.
    Pun, play upon words !

    • Thanks, Sneha, for the comment. I have a colleague, who works in North India at present. For everything, he will keep saying, “ji’ “ji’ (like saying yes, yes) – and I have become so used to this “ji”, by now, that “ji” is not a problem for me, whether grey hair or not!

  13. vimala ramu says:

    A witty take off on ‘dyeing’ .I believe the modern word for it is ‘coloring’ as I gathered from one of the blogs.

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