"Dude, again youve got some sort of a beard growing" said my colleague as he noticed the outcome of the previous day’s careful half an hour session in front of the mirror. Of course I did, now that I have settled into my new role in office I didnt see the need to conform to corporate India's highly questionable dictum that only clean shaven guys are professionals.
As I sit back and think I realize that in the since January 2006 there have only been 4 points in time when I have been completely clean shaven and hence deemed acceptable / presentable.
1. While appearing for my MBA interviews in early 2006 : With not a hair out of place and cheeks as bare as a new born baby’s I attended all my MBA interviews. Thank heavens I meekly followed the accepted route cause I would’ve stuck out like a sore thumb if I hadn’t. The interviews actually looked like some sort of cloning factory with all the guys wearing crisp blue shirts and black pants and all the women wearing white / pink shirts coupled with trousers. Things haven’t changed, a couple of months ago I was on the other side of the table for MBA interviews and I noticed that all the applicants were clean shaven with combed hair and nice blue shirts with black pants. Sigh !
2. Placement season - December 2007 : This wasn’t easy because it meant giving up my glorious year long ponytail and indicator sideburns. My professor actually remarked in class that my hair was long enough for me to pull it over my face and use it to ensure that he didn’t know whether I was sleeping or awake. Shamelessly, from his next session onwards that is exactly what I did. I remember what a tough time I had when we it was time to take our photos for the placement brochure. With a heavy heart I had finally shaven off my indicators but my medusa like locks still posed a big problem. But a tub of gel, a mug of water and hair clips from my helpful classmates ensured that the photographer was finally satisfied and agreed to take my picture.
3. 1st day of my 1st job (May 2008) : I suppose I cant complain about having to have gone clean shaven for this. The 1st day of the 1st job is a big day for most people and I was no different. A five day induction meant being part of yet another cloning factory, much to my rather apparent displeasure. It didn’t take me too long to get my little square under the lip back (which for the record I had years before Dil Chahta Hai and Aamir Khan made cool, I’m just saying).
4. Switching profiles (June 2010) : The toughest of them all. Over 4 months of having ignored any sort of contact with a razor blade left me with a gloriously long and super sexy 300-esque beard. Plus there were the lovely little perks (scroll back a few pages to find a post on that). Of course everyone had the same set of questions for me
a. Are you depressed ? Is it some love failure of sorts ? Its ok, time is the great healer.
b. Have you switched faiths ?
c. Have you lost a nut or two ?
d. Are you deliberately trying to make your already not too attractive self even more unattractive to the opposite sex ? And why ?
e. Are you planning on wearing a turban and masquerading as a Sardar ?
The time was ripe for me to switch profiles and I doubted any boss would hire me looking like that. Unless the potential boss happens to be a woman. Anyways, I finally put new razor to hard to find skin and what followed was the most painful 70 minutes in my limited history. Note to self : skin that has been prevented from exposure to the natural elements for an extended period of time does not take kindly to a razor plowing away at its shield. Frankly, It was a battle I thought the razor would lose. But centimeter by centimeter (I’m not exaggerating) I slowly managed to get rid of my prized possession but unfortunately bereft of any facial hair I looked like a kid fresh out of school. The saving grace was that I got the job.
And here I am, back to the good old days of carefully looking at myself from all angles to make sure that there’s not a hair out of place. On my beard that is. The most fitting tribute of all ? My football crazy Manipal roomie Hemant often saying (with just a tinge of exasperation, ok more than a tinge) “Fawlker, you spend more time in the bathroom for shaving than you do for having a bath. Get out !"