How to be distinguished

Rants on George Clooney’s perfect salt-and-pepper hair by Shovon Chowdhury

February 11, 2019 11:24 am | Updated 01:14 pm IST

I’ve always been proud of my hair. It’s thick and luxurious. If I shampooed more often, women would run their fingers through it. I often catch them eyeing my hair in buses. This is partly animal magnetism, and partly technical. ‘What’s his secret?’ they wonder. Could it be egg yolk, or maybe beer? They are wrong. I don’t do anything. Even if hair were a concern area, I would never wash it with beer. Just the thought of wasting beer like that makes me throw up a little bit in the back of my throat. I’m not really much of a beer drinker; it’s the principle of the thing.

I have one foot in the grave now, but I still have a full head of hair. In recent years, however, the situation has deteriorated. My hair has started turning grey. Right now, it has that distinguished George Clooney look. People often comment on it. If I was better-looking, we could be twins. But it’s only a matter of time before it turns completely white. Given how old Clooney is now, I imagine he’s completely white too. In which case, how does he achieve this salt-and-pepper look? It can’t be by applying something like boot polish, because the streaks would be unnaturally thick. He would look like a handsome zebra.

He is a Hollywood superstar. Plus, his wife earns a lot. Money must not be a problem for them. He must have a high-priced Hollywood hairdresser who dyes individual strands. This must be quite a feat, because the average human has 100,000 to 150,000 strands of hair on their head. This means that to achieve the Clooney Effect, the hairdresser would have to individually dye, say 60,000 strands. Assuming one second to colour each strand, it would take him upwards of 16 hours, working continuously. Feeding would have to be intravenous. This explains why we don’t see Clooney in public too often. It depends on whether his hairdresser is available. I can only imagine the panic in their house the night before the Oscars, when the hairdresser calls and says he has the flu. Of course, it’s not a simple thing to have a hairdresser on 24-hour standby. Given the high price of living in America, the expense must be colossal.

Luckily, in India, the cost of living is much lower. It’s one of the good things about us. Your average barber makes a lot less. I asked my local barber and he said he’d be willing to do it for around ₹40,000 a month, with half days off on Sunday. The cost of dye was extra, which we argued about for a bit, but eventually I agreed. Therefore, if you have a reasonably good income, and plenty of barbershops nearby, chances are you will find the right barber at the right price. So if your hair is going grey, and this is a concern area for you, don’t worry. All you need is around 16 hours a day, and a wholesale deal on hair dye.

In Shovon Chowdhury’s most recent novel, Murder With Bengali Characteristics, Inspector Li is super good-looking, with a touch of salt in his sideburns

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