Many years ago, when we had the nerve to deal with double roles, Amok Palekar once waxed eloquent to Utpal Dutt about nirmal anand (read,something that gives you pleasure without purpose) and its many joys. As I watched my pet squirrel Ismail bathing in the sun and washing himself in adandon one morning, I wondered how little we indulge in it nowadays and sighed.
Walking down Chimbai lane (ah, for lanes) a few evenings later, I sighted a skin and hair clinic called Nirmal Herbal. Ah! Time for some nirmal anand, I thought… and walked in…
The vibe was very fenshui—santoor sounds, some fish having a wild time in a tank they seem to have outgrown, a fountain in a corner… and there was just one soul other than me partaking of the joys of skin or hair treatment. Should have meant something. But I continued undaunted. “I just want to pamper my hair a bit…” I said to the girl with the practised husky voice.
“Sure.. we will give you a complete, non-chemical, deep-conditioning treatment. We only use vegetable juices and fruit pulp. Nothing artificial.”
Curiouser and curiouser. I thought I could deal with smelling like an orchard for a day or two, so asked them to bring it on.
“But for good results, you will have to come here at least 12-14 times..”
What? But I guess I was being particularly brave that day, so I asked, “And how much would that cost?
She mentioned a figure that was more than my monthly car EMI. I shivered.
Noticing me flinch, the incorrigible hustler of a girl added, “But we have a package… take 12 and get 13 and 14 free!
It wasn’t working. “I will just try once and then decide,” the saner half of me told her. Then followed an hour of feeling that my cerebral neurons are being attacked and then drenched with green and orange gooey substances. Now, I have studied enough Pharmacognosy to know that the liquid was neem and pulp was papaya and the rinse was shikakai and reetha, both detrimental to my already dry hair. So I piped, “But this can’t be good for me… my hair is dry…”
“Don’t worry, there are no chemicals….”
She gave me a cold stare, and continued in the most stoic manner. Where do they go for training? To the Matrix?
Don’t they know that every natural product is a complex chemical structure? It’s just that it doesn’t come pre-packaged with its composition.
At the end of it all, I felt like a nervous wreck, poorer by what could buy me a Mango dress. Plus my hair felt like straw.
The next day, it still felt like straw.
Two days later, I had to douse it with my chemical infested shampoo, conditioner and hair serum to give it some semblance of grace.
A few days later, my colleague walked in to work, her face infested with what looked like insect bites. “Are you just back from the Amazon?,” I asked.
“No, I just went for a facial yesterday, and it looks like they have used some wrong product,” she wailed.
Both of us want our money back.