Flight of a Mallu Butterfly.
I was walking down linkin road in Bandra, Mumbai the other day and realized a certain anomaly of nature. The cutest (C’mon I’m just being reticent here, guys you know by cute I mean HOT) girls all seemed to be with the ugliest guys. No I’m not kidding they seem to have put genuine effort to pick out the ugliest guy they could get their hands on. But then again reaching those levels of hideousness is beyond god’s handiwork so the person seemed to have gone to great extends in getting to those heights. I mean it’s not easy suffering all that perspiration from not taking baths for weeks on end. Or suffering the taunts of your buddies when you were trying to grow that hair long and were going through that phase when it’s not short enough to look normal or long enough to tie it into a pony, ala this guy in “Rock On” (Not the one with the frog in his throat). And oh the pain as the quack, who might as well have been a roadside cobbler in his previous life drilled holes for piercings on his ears, eyebrows, lips and any other protruding part of his body.
And if anybody was starting to scorn me for having called a fellow human being “ugly”, well I assure you those of this breed would only take it as a precious compliment. These were guys who put in genuine effort to look the way they were, much like the way we did going through our engineering or medicine degrees. C’mon guys admit it, the final prize that you had in mind wasn’t that medical degree or that IT job was it. It was the babes that you would finally land in life that you had in mind. Well somebody should have just told us of this sure shot method - just do your best looking ugly.
Maybe it’s just Bandra. I’ve heard this is where all fashion originates in India. High Fashion Designers, who dream about making it big in Milan, Paris and New York, walk this street discreetly glancing at the latest stuff when they run out of ideas for their next big show. If you want to put a mirror to the face of Mumbai this is the place. I once saw two girls fighting over who saw a fake Prada handbag first. One of them could pass for a supermodel, the other too a supermodel but more like that pic of Gitanjali Nagpal that splashed across the newspaper front pages a few years back. The irony of the situation was that neither of them knew that Prada was a designer brand, nor did the guy who was selling it. And for me Prada just seemed nice as it was that damn sexy SUV from the Toyota stable.
I belong to a generation of pure bred mallu males, who seem to have gone through the transformative college days without knowing what was going around in the world of fashion. Not that we didn’t tune in dedicatedly to FTV (that’s Fashion TV for the uninitiated if there are any) mind you. But for some reason we failed to spot the fashion in what was shown. Trapped in a cocoon of Coconuts and Communism, we were led to believe that fashion meant a mop of hair, shiny and dripping with oodles of coconut oil or long and messy much like Karl Marx’s was what fashion made.
And as butterflies when we did get out into the wide messy world around, but outside the time warp that is Kerala we were caught unaware. Some caught up with the fervor of a sailor who was out at sea for years. Or lets mallu-ize it – of a gulf returnee after months on an isolated oilfield coming back to his wife in Kerala. That wide majority who missed the bus found themselves suddenly caught out and unable to catch up. They were left wondering when was it exactly that they got left behind. A little clue: Think of the buses stoned during hartals, or the days lost in hangovers from the previous nights binge.
Me, lucky that I am, during my days in Bangalore was in a position to closely observe one such journey of a mallu brother in his attempts to reach the pinnacles of ugliness that I was talking about, transform from a curly haired, cute as Kunjacko, mallu idol to a straight haired Chinese looking whacko, whom no god fearing, rosary reciting mallu housewife would wish for her daughter.
But it’s a strange world isn’t it. It so turned out that what so many housewives from across this blessed country wanted for their daughters was sadly not what their daughters themselves wanted. This mallu converted to Chinese butterfly took the first flight out of fashion anachronism, to land in the laps of so many such daughters. J