Yearning to play


It was a beautiful girl from Europe this time. She eyed me curiously as I sat down with an uneasy comfort watching her examine me carefully. She went around me and slowly ran her hand through my hair and said softly, “Oh my god, it’s so long”.

“Chop it”, came a chorus of voices from the side in a unanimous agreement. She nodded and they came to an agreement on what to do with my hair. I was reduced to a bystander in their decision about my hair, but not for long. In seconds I stopped feeling like an unwanted bystander to that of an exhibit as three of them converged on me to take a closer look. One of them raised her hand to touch my hair and my ‘curator’ promptly slapped her hand; “Don’t touch my customer”, she said smiling.

I watched her through the mirror as she stood behind the chair toying with my hair. Bending down gently, she asked, “How long do you want it cut?” I finally felt glad to be included in a discussion on my haircut, but before I could answer, she stood with her hands folded, “Please say you want it cut long…” she paused to smile, “I really want to chop it”. I, of course, had to give in to the smile. The job began and I observed her now and then with an askance to see a picture of concentration as she learned her skill at the expense of my hair. In a little over an hour the job was done and I was ready to go. “Can I leave you a tip”, I asked her as I took my purse. “I am going to take the whole thing”, she laughed.

Spontaneity and playfulness gave the place a charm that I sorely miss in the professionalised world today. There were no prefabricated smiles and practised courtesies prepared by marketing gurus; Gurus who look at me like a mere machine and knowing how to stimulate me to get the response they want. This playful world treated me like a person with me being teased and engaged for the sake of engagement. In the professional world that I am getting used to, customer is the king. Playfulness reduced me to from the mighty king to a simple person…and for once I felt, it’s good to not be the king.


About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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