Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Down ‘Hairy’ Lane

 In trying to locate a particular photo, I was wading  through mountains of old photos – two trunk loads to be precise! A collection of  photographs taken when I was a three months old baby in my birth day suit to photos taken until ten years ago when digital photography replaced  conventional photography.

I was surprised to see a photo of mine taken in a studio when I was four years old. I was wearing a pyjama & baby kurtha sporting  long hair pleated and tied with a ribbon with flowers tucked in. Looking like a girl in a boy`s dress! It seems ,because of the delay in visiting Tirupathi for my first mandatory mundan(mottai), my parents had allowed my hair to grow!

Soon enough I had before me a series of my photos taken during various occasions or no particular occasion. What struck me was the amount of hair I had on my pate as a student in school and college.  There I was  sitting in a group photo taken of my class of 58 on the last day of my school.  I had wavy hair flowing from right to left, with a parting on the right.  In  some photos  the hair was flowing from left to right with a left parting.  I remembered my attempts  to have middle parting  too.. but alas there were no photos available of this.

As a youngster when I was beaming with pride about my wavy / curly hair  I was exposed to a  catchy advertisement for Brylcream- a famous brand of hair cream popularized by sexy looking models.  I thought the cream would make me also look more sexy as the ads promised to give a bright sheen to my hair. By now I was a  teenager  and  I had started imagining that any girl who  was friendly with me was in love with me.  It took me almost three years to  realize that the cream had not helped  in any way with the girls, but I  was slowly  and  surely losing  my hair as evidenced by the loose hair strands that were stuck to my comb every morning when I combed my hair after a bath.  Before I took the decision to discontinue the cream, I was already on my way to joining the world of `baldies`,  with a small,old rupee coin sized,  barren patch  on the back  of my head. That made me worried.

 The problem now was how to hide the small barren space whose circumference was growing  day by day. I found a solution- I started growing long hair, like many musicians of yesteryears – the `Bagavathar` style they called it!   For many years I never went to a saloon and managed to hide the bald patch with the long hair. As an Ad man in a creative business I could get away with my long hair! During this period I also got married. I wonder if my late wife would have agreed to marry me if she had known that I was a potential baldie!

After marriage with growing responsibilities and worries, a new problem arose. I began to lose hair above the temples on either side of the front of my head.  The receding portion in the front of my pate was fast trying to catch up with the empty space at the rear of my head, creating almost a barren patch  in the middle.

Though my wife assured me that her loyalty  and love for me will not diminish  because of my receding  hair line  I became panicky.  As a person who believes  in facing every problem  squarely- taking the ‘bull by the horns’ as they say, I found a solution to cover my bald pate in the middle.  I once again started growing long hair  but this time on one side of the head and while combing my hair stretched  the same to the other side of my head trying to cover the baldness in the middle.  While at that time I was happy with my looks , seeing the photographs taken during the period now,  I feel I looked   really funny. How perceptions change with advancing age!

When I was in my late forties I was introduced to an ayurvedic hair oil which promised not only to arrest the falling of hair but also helped in growth of new(!) hair., I have got hooked to this hair oil for over two decades now! When comparing the old photos  with some recent ones I am sure that I have some  new hair in the middle portion of my head now.

Whether others agree or not  I am happy  that while some cousins of my age group have  all become `mottais` with not a strand of hair on top, I at least have some hair left on the  top of my head. You may call it sadistic pleasure. So be it!

Like all  baldies with some or no hair I always carry a comb with me to ensure that whatever hair is left on  my head is kept in place and I look well groomed!

                                    Feedback welcome on rvrajan42@gmail.com or 9840392082.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

online shopping

Last week, I was surprised to see a delivery van stopping in front of my house and unloading a set of four or five  well packed items. I was curious to know what they were .  My son who was present to receive the delivery asked me to wait till the item was assembled.  After half an hour when he led me to his bedroom on the first floor of our home I was surprised to see a well designed  Queensize wooden cot (bed!), the colour of which was matching  the rest of the wardrobe in his bedroom. My son  told me that he had ordered the cot online!

Online shopping, as per a recent article in a newspaper, is fast catching on.  I can vouch  for it judging by the number of things that my son has acquired in the last couple of years, through online shopping. Like a digital camera,  Laptop, LCD TV, Multiple charger for mobiles and now the cot.  I understand that my daughter -in -law even ordered some fancy clothes online!

I asked my son why he prefers online shopping to physical shopping.  His answer was typical of the modern youth, “it is so convenient to shop online, appa.  I go through the websites of all the portals selling items on line and order the ones that give me the best bargain”

A typical old timer that I am, I asked “what if the item is not to your liking after you receive it or it comes with some defect?”

“No problem, appa.  If it is a genuine complaint, the portal will take the defective item back and replace it with a new one!”

He also told me how the online shopping helps him save on time & expenses  wasted on visiting various shops selling specific items. “ You can also pay cash on delivery of the item and  even buy vegetables and groceries online!”

Online sales of retail goods in India totaled $2billion in 2013 and is expected to reach $ 76 billion by 2020. I learn  that there is a big upsurge  in the sale of items online even  in Class I and Class II towns of India.  Our folks in the hinterlands of the country who are increasingly becoming tech savvy and who today have more  purchasing power in their hands, are using online shopping instead of wasting time, effort, money visiting the nearby cities to shop for high end products. I think the importance of `Touch & Feel`  and  `demonstration` of the products considered so vital to sell products in rural India is no more an issue in rural marketing -atleast among the well-heeled folks in rural India

No wonder Flipkart, one of the fastest growing  online shopping portals started in 2007 by two friends in Bangalore has  fetched a valuation of $ 7 billion making it not only India`s largest start-up but also one of the most valuable companies in the country. Flipkart is posing a major challenge to  Amazon- the biggest online retailer in the world, who themselves are expanding their footprints in India to exploit the  fast growing  online shopping market cutting across all product categories. Jumping on  the band wagon are IT tycoons Narayan Murthy & Aziz Premji who have invested heavily to provide back end support to Indian companies online. They are soon to be followed by Ratan Tata one of the most successful industrialists of modern India.

And there are also variations  of the idea . Portals like  olx.com, quickrr.com , etc. help  sell   second hand ( used)  items – like cars, two wheelers, fridges etc. at prices  equivalent to market rates based on online auction of the items. All that you have to do is to take a picture of the item, display it on the website of the portal with a brief description of the condition of the item  and lo and behold the sale is effected online.  No question of releasing an advertisement in the paper, waiting  for potential customers to visit your house for inspection of the item, negotiation of price, etc. Everything is done online. The portal takes a small cut in the sale price as their commission for handling the deal.

While online shopping  or e-commerce as it is also known,  is making such strides I was wondering what will happen to all the established retail chains selling multiple brands.  I got the answer in the news that one of the oldest retail chains with headquarters in Chennai - VIVEKS  has partnered with `eBay` to launch its brand store on the portal. I am sure many other chains will follow suit.

 Online shopping may be a boon for the hard pressed modern youth who are for ever busy with their smart phones/tablets. But  as a senior citizen with an old mindset, I would any day prefer physical shopping to online shopping for vegetables,or  groceries or any other household items that I need!  There is a great joy in visiting the vegetable market, physically checking out the quality of items you want and bargaining with the vendor about the rates before you buy the vegetables. And the sense of achievement you get when you manage to get a little extra quantity (Kosuru) is something which you have to experience!

It is perhaps, this old mindset that is also making me carry on with my 20 years old refrigerator and 17 years old top loading washing machine even today – having  over the  years replaced every part of these machines except the compressors  to keep them going . Because the service mechanic assures me  that the compressors ( the heart) of the machines  that I own are original pieces !

`You don`t get such sturdy machines any more sir, Keep it .don`t dispose it. Any problem, just give me a call on my mobile and I will come & fix it sir`. With a gullible old customer like me he is assured of some  business at regular intervals.

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