Ajay Gautam, a two year senior, BioTech, Kharagpur said long back, “Ladka apne baap ko dekh kar dadhi banana seekhta hai.” A boy learns shaving, watching his dad.
It stuck. Not because it was extraordinarily profound. But somethings just stick.
And I had seen my dad shave. All through my childhood and teen days (latter, silently fearing what if I never got his full face of beard). The man shaved like making art. Working out a luscious lather for fifteen minutes with that brush and shaving cream, checking and rechecking it, tilting his face in front of the mirror at thousand angles. (Yes, it is possible.)
And then, he would take his razor. Those single blade, three piece ones – you rotate the top and it opens into a base, blade and the top. And then, art phase 2 would start. Short, measured strokes. Dipping the razor head in the mug after each stroke. And then another – getting the angle perfect, getting the touch right, swish and stop. A mug bath again. And repeat.
Lifting skin on the cheek. Changing angles of the swipe. Changing the pressure of the stroke. Holding the skin between index finger and thumb to get that close, intimate swipe. Pure art. I could watch him shave to eternity and won’t feel the time.
And repeat. Yes, real men shave twice.
And, second round would be more functional. Quick lather. Less considered swipes. More like, rounding off the rough edges. Or, final proof-reading.
And then, he would splash Old Spice (Not always though, guess only the days he would feel super extravagant.)
Never had a heart to heart on the art and nuances of shaving. The old lawyer didn’t talk much. He doesn’t even now. Unless it is some new technology he is fighting with. To master it.
But he did tell me two things about shaving. That alum was an antiseptic and that his beard grew fast so, the next day, he would have a nice harvest. Translated – I must shave daily.
But, this isn’t about the old lawyer.
I took the love for a single blade razor from him. Didn’t fall for Gillette Mach 3, even when the ads screamed – “The best a man can get”. And even when I, hyper excited about landing in Delhi with my own money, total freedom and the prospect of felling pretty Delhi women left right and center, revamped my wardrobe, stocked up on after shave and cologne, and shoes and jeans. No. Real men shaved the old fashioned way. Didn’t budge even when the kid brother debuted shaving with a Mach 3.
Cut to last week. Decided to shave my head. Jason Statham. Vin Diesel. The Rock. Bruce Willis. Here I come.
A couple rounds to saloon told me it takes too long. Can’t be done daily. Need a home solution.
And that’s when, the great citadel fell. I finally bought a Gillette Fusion. True, had a valid reason. Shaving the head at home needs a razor with a movable head. The head (mine, this time) isn’t as well behaved as the face and half of it, I don’t even see.
True, I held fort for long. Even when every monkey on the planet had moved on to sleek, half plastic half metal, edgeless, curvy pieces that looked like a cross between a razor and a sex toy.
But, I feel like a sellout. Fuck, I hope the gods of old school, tough masculinity forgive me. I hope the gods of clean straight metallic edges don’t abandon me. Hopes. And prayers.
God, please understand. I had my reasons.