Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXX No. 8, August 16-31, 2020
The strange lure of unhappiness and frustration
The Woman from Madras Musings is beginning to think that, in general, people are more attracted to things that are ominous or frustrating than happy and pleasant. Take for instance, the Covid situation in Chennai. When matters were grim a month ago, with the rapid rise of infections in the city, much attention was given to daily statistics, lockdown regulation measures, medical infrastructure analyses and so on. There were some chaps that (Wo)MMM knew, who would log onto the Aarogya Setu app for the express purpose of seeing how many unfortunates in their vicinity had contracted the coronavirus; others seemed to rather enjoy their sandbox speeches detailing gloom and doom and incredible conspiracy theories. Today, our city is arguably in a better position against this enemy virus; doubling time has gone up and the number of containment zones and the death rate seem to be slowing down. One can be forgiven for imagining that the armchair experts who showed a fervent interest in the spread of the pandemic would display at least an equal, if not greater, enthusiasm in its halt, given that it is no mean achievement. Curiously, (Wo)MMM has heard nothing but radio silence at their end. One feels that even the morbid pastime of publishing premature obituaries – as the inimitable MMM has observed and dissected in the past – is an example of this strange predilection for pathos.
It’s not just the pandemic, you know. A couple of months back, (Wo)MMM came across a mobile game that was doing the rounds on the internet. The aim of the game was to help the protagonist, who was doomed to be stuck in a pot with no equipment but a long hammer in his hands, climb very strange obstacles like trees, mountains, and towering piles of truly weird objects, ranging from rocks and bricks to waterslides. It seemed to be an incredibly frustrating game, as one can imagine. (Wo)MMM spent an evening watching online videos of players attempting to finish the game, most of whom dissolved into raging meltdowns when they fell all the way down to square one. And everybody – even the players, (Wo)MMM thinks – absolutely loved it. The kicker? It was a paid game, which meant that the players actually had to shell out hard-earned money to experience such exquisite frustration. (Wo)MMM is certain that the crafty developer behind the game earned a fat sum out of all this.
And so, the (Wo)MMM has come to the conclusion that pleasant, informative content is not as saleable as dark or frustrating content. Which is a pity, because (Wo)MMM truly feels that while a naive outlook can render one to foolishness, a scrutiny of the silver linings can always help solve a problem or make the best of a bad situation.
The Woman from Madras Musings has noticed that even though the city’s beauty parlours and salons have resumed services, patronage has reduced with many still reluctant to brave a visit in these times, especially senior citizens or those with vulnerable family members at home. And so, people are trying to figure out how to take care of their own haircuts and hair dyes and so on. This has, as expected, given rise to many interesting situations in homes across the city.
First, the haircut. When salons first shut down in March, it was the lure of a professional haircut that tempted many to sin against the lockdown measures. But much experience has been gained since then, with some enterprising hairdressers offering consultation services via video call to help people cut their own hair or that of a loved one. At least one attempt that (Wo)MMM personally knows of turned into a real-life depiction of a fable that was a childhood favourite – the well-meaning missus kept reducing the length of her husband’s hair to make it even until he gave up and shaved his head. While there hasn’t been much research on this topic, (Wo)MMM is confident that there must be others in our fair city who can share similar anecdotes. Frankly, (Wo)MMM imagines that the problem is arguably worse for women, who cannot take drastic measures like this enterprising gentleman did.
Women have it tricky in other ways, too. Most are accustomed to sporting well-shaped eyebrows and facial features free of whiskers and moustaches. This hasn’t been possible to maintain in the lockdown and men across the city have been stumbling across feminine secrets that the gentler sex has largely sought to suppress for most of history – for instance, while it is common knowledge that we are also capable of growing moustaches, we have largely been able to hide how luxurious some of our ‘staches can be.
(Wo)MMM finds the whole situation most amusing since she personally doesn’t think that her friends, family and acquaintances look all that different in these parlour-deprived times – beauty truly does lie in the eye of the beholder. The better half’s hair admittedly looks more enthusiastic than usual, having found itself with the unprecedented liberty to grow at will; but it has always been curly and a stern combing does the trick quite well. The matter is a non-issue with the mater, who looks her usual lovely self; actually, not dyeing her hair has given her a new dimension of beauty. As for herself, the (Wo)MMM has rather grown to like her little moustache, and while it leaves the playing field wide open for family and friends to crack highly original ‘meesai aanalum manaivi’ jokes, (Wo)MMM feels it gives off a regal, Frida Kahlo-esque appearance that she is quite enjoying at the moment.
Personally, (Wo)MMM is convinced that we’d all be better off living in a world which frequents parlours not out of embarrassment, but self-love – and hygiene, of course. Here’s hoping that this restricted access to salons sows the first seeds of this mindset!
The Woman from Madras Musings was highly amused to note that the hashtag #SubmissionDeadlines was briefly trending last week in Chennai. The messages didn’t seem to be about any particular topic; it appears that a bunch of people urgently needed to inform the world at large that they’re all racing to meet submission deadlines in their respective projects. While (Wo)MMM sympathized with the whole lot, she couldn’t help but wonder if logging off social media might be a better strategy than making impassioned announcements and cursing the flow of time.