Being a Conservationist at a Spa & Salon 

My last visit was a little different. Since I was there for a couple of hours, with just one stylist, he had time to figure out his responses. He asked me to use various products, till I finally lost it and said “A. I don’t like chemicals on my hair, and stopping the usage of such products finally helped it. B. I don’t like chemical products, since they aren’t really good for the environment as well. So if you guys switched to better alternatives, it might be good for everyone.”

I hate salons and spas. While I love the experience of being pampered, it is often interspersed by product plugs and annoying comments about how whatever the product I’m using at the moment isn’t good for me (even if these were products suggested by the same person before they got better commissions from another brand).

However, since I’ve switched to organic brands, these conversations are more awkward. Most often, the stylist goes quiet since they don’t want to comment on the organic part of it, or how they are bad for you.

They do try to still push brands on you, most of them being some version of heat protectors, anti-frizz serums etc. Depending on my mood, I’m polite, sarcastic or plain mute.

The last time, I was getting a little annoyed and decided to confuse the guy. I told him I’m a conservationist, and I try not to use chemical products as much as possible (which is true, though that didn’t start from an eco-perspective!).

If there’s one entity that’s not yet made the attempt to switch to being eco-friendly, that’s salons and spas here. They use copious amount of water to maintain hygienic conditions, or even just wash off the chemicals off the hair and body.

Well, nothing much can be done about that (yet) from individuals. A while ago, there was a mass movement about products being tested on animals, and a lot of customers would ask if the products being used were animal-tested. Some awareness, some impact. We’ve not yet got to a stage where people are asking if the products being used are environment-friendly.  They aren’t talking about alternatives to plastics.

So having one person sitting there talking about how much water you are using to wash one’s hair makes them extremely uncomfortable. This is not a conversation they want to start yet, since that means involving more structural changes (eco-shower heads, better recycling policies, LED lighting, washing policies, hygiene maintenance).

Now to be honest, I’ve never thought much about conservation in the beauty industry. I do know that the water being used here needs to be treated before it enters the sewage system. But no clue if Indian rules enforce this. There’s a tough line to maintain between hygiene and being eco-friendly, and one reason the luxurious places use fresh products – so we know that it is clean.

But for me, I’ve found my way to shut up the annoying sales person the next I want a head massage in peace.

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The Price Nature Demands

There is a long list of to-dos posted on my computer, phone and numerous post-it notes. I continue to avoid looking at them, even as they scream at me in their urgency. I prefer driving through the empty roads of the city, focusing on the question that pushes itself more often into my mind these days. Was the world meant to be this way? 

If earth was an actual living creature, Mother Earth, as we like to call it… what would she be thinking, feeling. Numerous weird creates moving over her at breakneck speeds, sounds that were perhaps never meant to exist, things that were never meant to exist. What is humans were an accident of nature that nature has not been able to eradicate. Yet. 

My newsfeed on Facebook is flooded with photographs of people eating, posing cutely in various places, marking their territories conquered with a photograph of them with their conquest in the background. Like Alexander went on conquering worlds and never looking back, most of them never look back to pause and admire what they are at. Do they really look at the beauty of the mountains behind them and forget about the camera hanging around their neck, the phone in their hands and the fact that they need to ‘check in’ and tell the world where they are? Do they realise that they might want to keep some of those breathtaking images to themselves, to ponder over in their old age when people have begun to fade away? Has the overwhelming presence of cameras around us made us so obsessed to catalogue every single minute of our day and share it with millions of strangers? 

What does the world make of computers, let alone strange wires flowing through the ocean, carrying bits of information in formats that were not even a part of imagination a mere 100 years ago. We cut short our communication even as we increase the  mode of it. And much of it is white noise. Photographs of loved ones, loved pets, favorite places, all the places you visited, all the clothes you own, all the shoes you own, all the people you know, all the cats and dogs with weird faces, all the gossip about people you would never know… 

If I woke up tomorrow to the sound of mere birds and nothing else, I would be lost perhaps. And that would be the kind of lost that I like. The sound of birds, the sound of silence… days without a watch. 

I stopped wearing a watch a while ago, without really noticing it. There are reminders of time all around us. My constantly flashing cellphone, the dashboard of the car, the little taskbar at the bottom of my computer screen. Why wear another reminder of time when it is so constantly pushed into our face? Do I miss it? I did not even realise I had stopped wearing it till so recently. I’m told that it signifies being a little unprofessional, a little casual, a little bohemian. Really? So be it. 

There would be a day when we would escape from this structure. When your day would be yours to do as please. Perhaps I would be old and senile and that will be my license to roam around as I please, to sleep when I wish and wake up without the worry of a day ahead of me. Being senile would perhaps give me the right to say exactly what I am thinking, without having to worry about being politically correct, offending sentiments and such nonsense. The wrinkles on my skin would free me from the constraints society puts on you regarding your appearance. The shaving, the waxing, the combing, the tightening.

But why wait? Because, perhaps, deep inside, we are all slaves to something that doesn’t exist. We escape from it for short durations… and then are compelled to return… to pay the price for whatever be it, for a while, till you earn your way to freedom. Till you earn your way to live peacefully. Till then.

Call for Help

She is 6  months old.

She was abandoned by her mother, then adopted by the Forest Department officials who then ran out of space and money and is now living in a room in a kind family’s home. The room is smaller than those places we lived in during our college days…

The family is loving and caring and they manage to feed her decently as well.

But that is not where she should be. She should be in the wild, running free. But it might be too late… she is like a house cat. So she would need help to be rehabilitated into the wild. A zoo would be a good option except no zoo in India has the space to take her.

There are people who are willing to “adopt” her and even work with rehabilitating her into the wild, except that needs government approval – which we are not getting. Who knows why!

Would really appreciate anyone putting me in touch with anyone who could help. Or pass on the message till it reaches someone who can help. Let’s get her home.

In the Jungle…

Two days in nature makes me all the more conscious that Bangalore is really crowded. There were forests, there were coffee plants and birds I did not know the names of flying around. And no sound of humans. They were around of course… it was a home stay…

But we were lucky enough to get the corner cottage, with a fabulous view of trees and nothing but trees. I wished a million times for a better lens so I could capture all those fantastic birds… and maybe google them later and figure out those were what I saw. Some of them were so tiny and so fast that I would wonder if that is what I saw exactly…

It was peaceful. No time for ruminations and thoughts, like I usually do in places like this. I didn’t do much but eat and sleep and make an attempt at being healthy by a bit of trekking… mostly, we drove around, when we felt like dragging ourselves out of the cottage. I didn’t much feel the need to, except at moments when my conscience said I was at a new place and had to do something to make it worthwhile.

I honestly didn’t think I could survive for two days with just one person. I need people, conversation… or failing that, technology. My mobile barely worked, which meant no email or facebook either. And it seemed rude to be on the phone when there were just two of us. I felt a little bit like Miranda from SNTC at one point. But then the difference here was when I got bored, I could say I was bored… or reaching a point where I was bored.

Of course, the nights got a little noisier as the neighbouring cottage had some really loud boys who were playing “teen patti” or some version of it. They argued, taught each other, bet a lot of money, drank and threw all their cigarette and chips packets into the pretty bush in front of the cottage – which was all I could see of their place. I didn’t even get a look at who was there, except for the feet of one guy, which kept dangling out of the porch wall… he had clean feet.

There were waterfalls… a pleasant trek… where some genius had built a little metal ramp leading right up to the fall. So people could strip and pretty much take a bath underneath the fall – which is what they did. Mostly men… who wore their underwear like they really were in their bathrooms… my friend tells me earlier there was merely half a ramp so you could dive into the pool. I am not sure which is better… Of course, nobody who was going there for first time would expect such a glorious situation, so no one was carrying extra clothes. Which meant – underwear. Indian men don’t consider that a really private garment when there is water involved.

So we faced the other way, put our feet in the ice cold water, blocked our minds to the activities below and enjoyed an hour of peace.

(For more photos, click here)

Song of the day: In the jungle