Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In the Eyes of the Beholder

This blog post goes out in public interest. To share a horrifying experience I recently had in Delhi. It takes me all my will to come out and write about it, but I know that out there, there have to be other girls, who have gone through the same nightmare as what I faced recently.

This is for all of you, just to let you know, you’re not alone.

The trauma of entering a beauty shop.

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with what most beauty shop set ups are like, at least the ones I’ve been to in Delhi Lajpat Nagar market and such. One shop, with a counter which extends straight inside, with salespersons (or in my horrifying case, all salesgirls) dedicated to different kinds of products, starting from shampoos to lip balms to cosmetics to finally the last counter: the rather embarrassing lingerie collection (where you can find everything from the stringiest thongs to the stretchiest tummy tuckers. But that’s another blog post some other time). What this store structure essentially means is, that you have a narrow passage way to navigate, cross all counters till you find the correct counter for your need, with only one door: the entrance, and more importantly, the exit.

Now on a usual day, these shops are packed to a suffocating hilt, with kids running around asking their mums about lipstick, women haggling over shampoos, and embarrassed husbands trying to keep their gaze away from that rather enigmatic last counter. Now these are the good days which simply require you to follow a simple process:
  1. Breathe in
  2. Enter shop
  3. Locate correct counter and salesperson
  4. Fight a few aunties, kick a few kids, reach the counter
  5. Ask for product
  6. Receive product
  7. Thrust money at the counter
  8. Get out
  9. Breathe out and thank God for still being alive

And that’s the process I went over in my head before I entered the beauty shop near my home in Delhi, recently.

I took a deep breath and entered the store.
And it was empty.
And there were four saleswomen.
And in unison, their eyes suddenly rested on me.
I was sucked in before my brain could go from step 1 to 2.
“Yes Ma’am how can we help you?”
I…erm…wanted a kajal…
“Sure Ma’am, right here!”
I turned towards the three different counters which chimed up the last line.

Now I do not have a complete recollection of what happened next. It is but a blur. The doctor said something about selective memory as a defence mechanism of the brain against trauma.

I do vaguely remember my arms being pulled out on both sides. And then I remember feeling a lot of random liquids and brushes and pencils being tried out on my skin.

And suddenly, I found myself the subject of a group discussion, much like the ones I hated throughout my placement season in college. Now, if you have ever participated in a GD, you would realize that every GD eventually has certain kinds of people...

The one who starts the GD, and lays down the basic problem being dealt with:
“Ma’am, you have really oily skin!”

And then the one who isn’t really satisfied with the introduction, so he redefines the problem and tries to point out a new angle:
“Ma’am, so many pimples!!!”

And then the problem-solution guy. This is the person who will point out another problem altogether, and give a solution to the same. So he’s the all rounder you hope to recruit. He has a problem, and he has a solution, just not necessarily the one you wanted to discuss to begin with:
“Your hair are so frizzy, you need this leave in conditioner.”

And then the few who really don’t know what to say, and will try their best by piping in one or two not such important points and repeating earlier said points in the hope to get noticed:
“So many black heads on your nose!”
“But as I was saying, that’s because of oiliness.”
“Arre can’t you see all the pimples?”

And the concluder, who aims at getting the maximum points by summarily summarizing all points not necessarily his own:
“Yes, so in conclusion I would like to say, that a very pimply specimen with crazy frizzy curly hair has just walked into our shop. The root cause of her predicament seems to be oily skin, caused probably by bad food habits and an unhealthy lifestyle, or just a really really late attack of puberty. We have of course, by way of this highly unproductive and also a bit insulting discussion realized that the best course of action is to bombard her with a list of beauty products which will probably cause her skin to break and fall off by the time she is 30. Thank y…”

And finally, the one guy who never lets a discussion conclude peacefully, and always comes up with a point at the absolute last minute, causing the almost tamed discussion to go into a tizzy:
“Ma’am, some weight reduction lotion?”

That was the last straw. That was when I banged my bag down on their scratched glass counter and finally looked at them with a stare meant to murder, resuscitate, and murder even more cruelly all over again. My words cut through them like the knife of a brutal butcher who loves his work a little too much. By the end of my five minute monologue, there was fear, there were tears, there was enlightenment. The poor ignorant souls had been introduced to the concept of inner beauty, and their lives had been changed forever.

Sure. Or at least that’s the way I like to remember it.

What I did do was pretend to get a call and run out of the store.

  1. There are some things that can manage to cause an even lower self esteem than Cosmopolitan magazine.
  2. Multi-purpose chemists are rather awesome, specially the ones that sell kajal.
  3. Pimples eventually do go away. I think.


Atrisa said...

Ma'am you should get a facial done. Your skin looks really dull and undernourished. Please put your face here on the Kaya skin monitor. We will show you how unhealthy your skin is and what Kaya products you should be using to ensure you have no skin left.

I was gonna write a post on the same. You beat me to it!

Shreya said...

Lol :P

Amiya said...

I hear ya, sista! Awesome job making such a hilarious story out of what is essentially a tragic tale of suffocating humiliation for most of us. Well, at least the ones with oily skin and blackheaded pores.

Rohini said...

I bow to thee!! :) a feather in your cap.