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From ‘Santoor Mom to Liberal Fascist!’

September 24, 2014

OMG I am not a good riddle solver – although sometimes I do manage to solve the crosswords in ‘the Hindu’ hundred percent. They have 2 actually – I dare to attempt only the one in metro section. I have a reason to write this post. Guess!

Being the Indian Nari, we women grow up getting lots of comments. Because of my petite looks, there are people who misjudge my age.

Err… it really embarrasses me to admit this:

Some of the best compliments I have received from the opposite sex are: being called ‘a Santoor mom’ , ‘Dove girl’ and ‘Pears mom’ hahaha! Santoor is the famous sandalwood soap, and Dove and Pears are also soap ads. I can guess why. I take it in good spirit but it still hurts when someone fit enough to be your son should pass such a remark on you. None has ever complimented me for my looks otherwise – like about my nose or face or skin colour (for obvious reasons). This struck me only very late in life. Like why not the ‘Lux woman’ for instance! There is a big difference here. Rarely I step into the beauty parlour and when I do once an year, my regular girl remembers me for the same reason. She calls me by the same soap names too. Its from her I learned why some men call me by those names.

Otherwise I am not really a beauty-conscious person. I am clumsy mostly and choose wrong clothes and colours. A complete misfit when it comes to accessories! In fact don’t accessorize especially with brands. Go for cheap & best always. So the santoor/dove/pears comments always surprise me. Makes me realize how calculative men are! Gives a great insight into the way a male mind (atleast a married man’s  mind) works. I was highly perturbed when a friend’s husband made such a ‘dove body milk wash’ comment on me once like a kind of a joke (the same rape comment fellow). He was referring to my ‘supposedly healthy’ looks like saying I had put on weight, but I took the hint. Just wanted to give him a tight slap. I don’t look kindly at inappropriate words or unwarranted attention from trusted close circle. I am staying away from this lecherous guy ever since. Whether physically or mentally or emotionally, any man can get closer to a woman ONLY with her permission.

So that’s why I am irritated with the Deepike Padukone-TOI tussle over the cleavage shown by the star. Guys wake up, its her life.

As the so-called  ‘Santoor mom’ if any guy asks, I can share a secret: until my mother was around, we sisters never used a chemical soap or shampoo. It was strictly only besan (gram flour) for skin and shikakhai (for hair). Since besan is a bit coarser than toilet soaps, a daily soaking of 5 min in coconut oil was mandatory. Weekends, a complete soaking in coconut oil head to foot was a must for 1 hour atleast before a head bath. Yeah until today I observe this ritual. Now I have the luxury of time but even in busy school/college/working days, I stuck to my regimen during weekends. In summers I make it thrice a week. If time is precious, I cut it down to 20-30 min. This is a regular south Indian practice. Nothing strange about it.

My suggestion to young girls is, skip the beauty parlour. NEVER GET FACIALS DONE OR ANY MASSAGE.  ALL THAT CAN ONLY LOOSEN YOUR SKIN NOT TIGHTEN UP IN MY OPINION. If you want good blood circulation, do physical exercise or Yoga. You can soak atleast your neck & face and hands and feet everyday in coconut oil even for a minimun 5 minutes as you browse the daily morning papers before you shower.  If you have a potted Aloe Vera at home, pluck a sheath and rub the resin in your face, neck. Never use a soap other than glycerin based ones like ‘Pears.’ No bathing gels, body shampoos either. Use a mild Johnson’s baby soap if you have to. For men, a simple least-toxic ‘Hamaam’ will do. Use natural sandalwood paste for a scrub (not difficult to get in India) and/or Multani Mitti. If you have acne or other skin rashes, use ‘Margo’ the neem oil soap.. Best tan-remover is the lemon in our kitchen. Rub the halves into your face and neck and hands once a week and see the results. Worth all the itching! Best face tightening mask is egg white.

Best hair-remover is our own haldi (turmeric – the cosmetic one, not the kitchen kind). Using it once a fortnight or once a week (if it so demands) will see to that there is no facial hair growth or least hair growth in arms/legs in women. When this habit is formed from childhood, by teenage a young woman will be a body hair-free person. Men, keep away from haldi please!

Our desi coconut oil is the best invisible aphrodisiac working behind the scenes in many ways – use it maximum to your advantage 🙂 Using it for years from childhood will show best results from your late 20s (that’s the first time I got the soap comment). Best natural moisturizer and best anti-aging formula. I would recommend regular use of olive oil if you have a fairer skin. But olive oil has a tanning effect that I cannot afford. Coconut oil has a cooling effect on our body, has no side effects and is a natural skin toner. It makes our skin soft and supple and reduces wrinkles with prolonged use. It also lightens our skin – so a must for dusky south Indian women like me. Suits our dry Indian climatic conditions. Much safer and better than fairness creams etc.

Men in our families/society also soak in coconut oil still I don’t know why they are so hairy and rough!! Looks like coconut oil knows the difference and how to differentiate between sexes lol!

Coconut oil is also a good antiseptic. We use it to treat burns, inflammation, etc.. It also comes cheap. Best is to buy the unbranded loose one (which is possible in Chennai), but if you have to get it from store shelves, go for the unscented pure ones like the VVD Gold over those like ‘Parachute.’ Never get a blend.

More than the physical appeal, our skin/body must be healthy first. Say a big ‘No’ to make-up which is the quickest way to age. A ‘Fair & lovely’ face cream  for 60 bucks is the only make-up kit I own that I use for festive occasions/celebrations/parties/evening out. Apart from a tube of SPF moisturizer and a lipstick/eye pencil  (nothing for daily wear seriously). ‘F & L’ is a cheap concoction but has no side-effects. Best base if you ask me.  My small cache of cosmetics still last me for 2-3 years. My investment in cosmetics/accessories/clothes is minimal. Young girls keep away from beauty salons atleast until you turn 35. I did. When my girl in the salon asks me why I look younger for my age I say, ‘its because I visit you only once in a blue moon!’ and she nods her head in agreement!

If after all this we still age and it shows, it just goes on to prove we cannot hide our years or turn back the clock. Age with dignity, there is nothing to be ashamed of about an eye bag or grey hair or a slight paunch or a bald head. Ageing is a natural process. Who can forget the picture ‘Death becomes her’ starring Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep?!

Its all in the gene anyway. It is prudent to watch what we eat.

Oh I almost forgot the perfumes. Me strictly a NO PERFUME/BODY SPRAY person. The familiar criticism one comes across in middle-east about south Indians is for NOT using perfumes, by north Indians and other international communities. I have this to ask:

1. why should you need a perfume/body spray if you work in air-conditioned environs.

2. perfumes/body sprays mingled with perspiration while you are outdoors will be nasty, pretty more offending to our senses

3. if you cannot appreciate human body sweat smell, i can only pity you – male/female body sweat is the best natural aphrodisiac in the whole world. why block it with synthetic perfumes/sprays. unless you have a bothering body odour/foul smell/breath problem, there is no need to go for perfumes. sweat is also a natural excretion. blocking it is unhealthy.

4. not only bodysprays/perfumes, most cosmetics are also cancer-causing/harmful to skin

Finally beauty is in the beholder’s eye. You look beautiful to those to whom you matter.

So in mid 40s when someone calls me ‘Santoor mom’ or ‘Dove girl’ or ‘Pears mom’- all I can do is smile. Given that I have a son who will graduate by next year.

Well beyond the physical soap comment that I treat as compliment in most cases, none has read my mind or made an assessment except perhaps my husband & son. Anyway I am learning now I am a liberal fascist (!) plus other things lolz. Even being called ‘an yellow journalist’ is better than being thought of as nothing 🙂 ‘Thank you’ is all I can say.

***************************************************************************

How about the time and money many women and even some men spend on beauty routine, perfumes, branded accessories like totes, shoes etc every month plus on labelled clothes. What about eating out, partying, shopping, etc. How about men expending on smoking and boozing. Spending on physical fitness and mind training is much better than spending your dough on vanity or on those that will do you physical harm. In fact our choice is much cheaper and healthier. Yoga is not a mere physical exercise, it is mind training as well. Our concentration improves. Our whole body gets flexible. Joints get fluidity. Meditation calms our soul. Zumba makes you sweat like none other, the best cardio you can think of – especially if you are a non-vegetarian. I prefer it to aerobics because it is more fun. Also because I love Enrique Iglesias 🙂 We girls will be trying out Aqua zumba shortly with our male trainer in swim suit – anyone got any problem?!

A Housewife’s Choices:

People: every time you swipe your card to pay for imported cosmetics, shampoos, wallets, shoes, perfumes, dyes, expensive branded tees and shirts and jeans, coffee and tea, Pepsi or Coke, or eat at KFC, McDonalds or Pizza Hut – just think who’s the sucker. When you may believe in personal grooming, I am the kind to believe in holistic grooming.

 

 

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From → Bharatiya Naari

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