Pinnochio, the Fairy Tale – (Malabar Version)

Once upon a time, there was a wizened old king by the name of Sultan. In his younger days, he was once the most eligible bachelor/playboy there ever was in the flagrant town of Malabar. He’d reached power through a series of devious plots, and then had been King for the longest, got all the best action there was, and by the time he’d figured out the importance of true love, he’d turned into a lying scum bag, obsessed with corrupting the land with his greedy heart. Not really the ideal bachelor type. Still, like all kings, he desired a Prince to take over his kingdom, and and since he was too old to be hitching himself up with a fair Nawabi princess, he fashioned for himself a wooden figure of a boy with the fair impish glance, and prayed desperately and fervently, forgetting all his previous secularist sins, until the figure turned, quite expectantly into a human living child, to warm the old man’s heart in his final days, and take his place as the King.

News that the king now had a son, travelled far and wide, and may dignitaries arrived to lay their eyes on the mighty prince of Malabar. Since the boy was now 5 years old, and additionally of immaculate origin, there was much mumbling and grumbling in the kingdom, especially from sections of the society that had claims to the throne, and had been safe in the knowledge of the king’s licentious behaviour. The practices of dark arts were a common occurence in the kingdom at that time, and the not-so-well meaning relatives of the old king summoned up, by means of chicken blood and goat hair, a strange creature, a magical one, and duly issued him an invitation to the royal Naming ceremony.

Of what form or nature this magical creature was, perhaps even the royal relatives did not know: just that they followed some grandmother’s recipe of summoning a Djinn. What they did know was that Djinns preferred looming in the murky shadows, travelling through the darkness of the night, and could sometimes be used to scare the living shit of a man who took the wife-beating a tad too far. But most importantly, Djinn morals were questionable. And this for the relatives, was reason enough.

At the naming ceremony, the Djinn appeared after his travels, taking the form of a disco light with eyes, high up in the auditorium of the summer palace of the King, where all the dignitaries had convened. The DJ took this as the cue to start the music, and began the drum beat of some new Sufi hip hop, when the Djinn raised his magical hand, a symbol to stop. “I am here to grant a wish to the boy,” said the Djinn in the loud booming voice of a base speaker.

There was a hush of incredulous silence, as is customary when a Djinn of this stature and size appears with no magic lamp in toe. Where had the Djinn come from? What did it want? These were the hushed whispers that seeped through the crowds like mystic snakes. “I give this boy, the Truth. A boon or a curse, only time can tell. But he shall speak the truth and nothing but the truth, and may the dark lord be my witness. Prince Pinnochio, he shall be, and he shall be the truest king of the land. ”

There was cheer in the land. The political commentators that doubled as drunkards by the night, rejoiced. At last, a good dose of honesty. The people deserved the truth, didn’t they! And Pinnochio, was the truest of them all. When the princess of Travancore were sent to him as play dates, he called them fat and overdressed and impolite, with mouths that smelled of town gutters. This was quite true, agreed the commentators over a hearty drink, the town gutter did smell that bad, but truth or not, it also meant the end of a political alliance (and perhaps dalliance) over an issue as slight as stench.

Later, when Pinnochio touched the throbbing teens with his eyes on many a fair maiden, Gengis Khan, an old friend of Pinnochios’ father decided to come down. But Pinnochio, unable to control his truthful tongue, declared that Genghis Uncle, with his affinity for virgins, needed to stay out of the territory as a means of population control.

After that, it was a truth spree. Pinnochio began with the lesser royals working his way to the top notches, outing the strange habits in the most of his flagrant speeches, Duke Hussain loves little boys a bit too much, shouted Pinnochio after a royal visit, King/Uncle Phiroze liked dressing up in the queen’s clothes, King Shoaib wanted to be tied down naked in his dungeon. King Fazil loved hiding while guests used the royal restrooms. Every perversion was out in the open for the world to hear and enjoy.

King Sultan was now desperate. Malabar had become the loneliest of all kingdoms. And the only reason they were not being attacked was the embarrassement of heads-of-states, unable to lift their shamed heads enough to rile up the masses into a frenzy that was needed for war. Everyone knew of Pinnochio’s curse. Every royal in the vicintiy was terrified of Pinnochio. And it was soon decided. War may not be possible. But a plot could be hatched to get Pinnochio killed at the earliest.

Sometimes, plots of the kind have a strange tendency to redemption, and to put it succinctly, instead of killing Pinnochio with a bottle of poisoned wine, his lying father succumbed instead to the oldest trick in the book, and Pinnochio is crowned king of Malabar, much to the chagrin of the royals.

His ascent as king was followed by a series of sanctions, from Rajput to Travancore, from the Arabs in the east, to the whites everywhere else. Nobody would trade with Pinnochio’s malabar, until he ended his truthful blaze.

Now Malabar was a land of laziness, and when the noose of trade sanctiones tightened, Famine hit the realm harder than war. Riots ravaged the kingdom, Pinochio was to blame, the rioters screamed. Enough with truthfulness. Bring back the lies. Bring back corruption. Bring back peace.

King Pinnochio informed his own people, that instead of blaming the king, it was about time they got off their asses and worked for a living. He washed down the streets with the barrels of wine that the land was addicted to. And since he liked the sound of it, he introduced a few GetOfUrAss schemes, that gave people money for labor.

This was met with a lot of resistance. To work for a living? It was unheard off. The people of Malabar did not work as a practice. It was their cultural right. A heritage, sort of. And Pinnochio was robbing them of even that.

Desperate, Pinnochio called upon his old friend, the Djinn, who had now acquired a nice studio apartment inside a magic lamp. The Djinn was smoking up, a nice pot of Ganja, since wine was not much in supply. “Ah” said the Djinn, letting out a few smoke rings over Pinnochio’s face, “So long since I had a royal visit.”

Pinnochio nodded curtly, and told off his problem. He begged the Djinn to help him, to absolve him of his curse, his boon. The Djinn shook his head, launched his guttural laugh, and told Pinnochio that a boon given at birth can never be revoked or reversed: truly it was not in his power. Dejected, Pinochchio wept at the fate of his land, wishing that he was dead instead of living like this as a useless king. It was a few hours of tear-jerking and bawling later, that the Djinn, tired of the sound, took pity on Pinnochio and whispered into his ears, if not a solution, perhaps a workaround.

The next day, Pinnochio took the pulpit, amid the rioting masses, and declared in somber tones of a soothe-sayer, a fore-teller, a prophet even, that Malabar was going to be the richest land in the world. There was much hush and awe-struckness in the crowd at this declaration. But that isn’t the only part, says Pinocchio. Any land, east or west, that refuses to trade with mighty Malabar will seep into poverty worse than any ever, famines and floods shall ravage these lands, and only death shall thrive in them.

The declaration has an immediate effect. The lands are terrified that the words of truth sayer Pinnochio might take effect. Immediately, all trade is resumed, and the town of Malabar prospers again.

Years later, when Pinnochio himself is old and wizened, with a boy of his own, flesh-made than wood, he tells the boy of the whisper of the wily Djinn. The trick that saved them all. That even though Pinnochio could not never lie about the present or the past, the future is and would always be his veritable play ground.

A Sibling to Boss Around

 

Kabir was a fine man, the kind that was loved by everyone in the village, helpful to the poor as he was to the rich. He had only one fault. He loved his children, all four of them. A bit too much. And he would do anything for them. His youngest one, Muhassin, wanted a younger brother. Someone to boss around, the boy said, standing all of his five years tall before his father. Kabir laughed at the boy, pulling his snotty nose, “If my son wants something, I shall get it for him!” He promised.

But later, in the kitchen, when he bounced the idea off his wife Shahina, she bristled her nose, “Kabir Ikka, you have a litter of four! By Allah, if you want another one, I suggest you give birth to it yourself!” Now Shahina loved Kabir, but really, the man believed that child rearing was all about love and toys. What did men know about the troubles of a woman? Shahina meant business, and Kabir knew this in the way she squinted her eyes, and threw the rotis forcefully onto the plate, like a slap on his face. So he tried a different way. “Alright fine!” he said, “Then I am going to Chavakkkad to buy a teddy for Muhessin. That shall be his younger brother.” And Shahina threw another roti, saying nothing.

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How to Skin a Human Alive….For Dummies

She lay on the plank. With her disgusting nudity. You might think that sort of thing excites me. But no. I am not in it for the screams. Sometimes, you need to do things cos you gotta do it. Expectations were abound. And often times, you did things out of peer pressure. Like skinning someone alive. At least that’s how I started.

I’d agreed to do her because of the baby fat on her face. I liked that sort of thing. Besides, she was a pretty one. But then, adulteresses usually were. I had to admit that I did wonder how she’d looked without…you know… her skin. Don’t judge me, but honestly, I am sure everyone wonders the same, how someone looks like that…skin out and screaming. But I gotta tell you, its not as great as it is made out to be. The folks, they faint way before that. But, despair not, I am here to tell you there are ways to keep them awake for the longest.

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Such a Roach

Amel Rahman

I feel the disgust rise within me.
When I see the Roach.
It’s there everywhere.
This insect.
Work, Play, everywhere.
The Roach.

He looks like me, sometimes.
He wants to be like me, I think.
He’s trying, it seems,
To make something good,
For a while.

But then I see,
He’s a Roach.
He prefers to feed
On what I leave behind.
Its just the noise he makes,
Its not a question he asks.
Its not in earnest he sees.
This Roach.

He wants what I have, Okay.
He wants just a piece, I think.
But he wants it all, in time.
Then he wants to stand with his shaking belly in the air.
He’s mastered it all, he says,
He’s got his crown on his weird head,
But dude, we all see you,
Such a Roach.

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AI for the Indian Girl

Amel Rahman

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The wedding was loud, just like the bride’s makeup, with one too many relatives to avoid.  What Sowyma needed was a blocker, that would automatically seal the mouth of any woman greater than 45 as they approached her, especially with questions of her own mariagge, and why it had no signs of materializing.  But Sowmya would have to make do with what she had.  She adjusted her glasses, and whispered as if to herself, “Anjali, can you tell me the list of hot non-losers at this wedding?” The voice cackled at her ear piece, before Anjali’s sweet Mallu accent flooded her ears “16 long-term possibilities, 4 possible flings, and seven to keep away from.  All seven in the custody of Priya auntie. Safe distance from auntie recommened.” Sowmya grinned. That accent could keep her rolling through this day.

“Ok, show me the nearest Nair available that has something more than…

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Why that Bimbo Smart

Amel Rahman

Bimbo sits a few cubicles away from me at work.  Of course, she’s Indian, probably Punjabi, I dunno, long black locks of hair, luscious lips, and white skin, the works.  The kind of girl who is pretty because she firmly believes and takes enough selfies to prove it.  Obviously, she’s no friend of mine.  Brrr…..I strictly avoid eye contact when she crosses me in the office walkways, my lips lined with barely concealed disgust.  Why?  Because she is shallow, has no ambition beyond her clothes and netting a fancy husband, makes as much noise at the workplace as ten pigeons in heat, and seems to be living it up despite my obvious disgust (which she is clearly not registering).   Meanwhile, I am dying of an occupational ailment, resulting from chronic insecurity and a need to take work till I get my ass-fucked, and then some more.

So recently, I…

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Why Hell is an Alumni Group

Amel Rahman

So some lame-ass in my college gang of 2004 has suddenly decided that it would be an awesome idea to find the phone numbers of 57 other class mates (two dead, may their souls rest in peace away from all social media) and form a whatsapp group. The poor dear has convinced some of his other friends to go through the painful task of collecting all the phone numbers, with the sole intention of forming another whatsapp group that we could all rudely exit from.

But this time, I’m pressing pause on that exit button. And I’m watching the damn ball game. Or very soon, this will escalate into a full blown cocktail party invitation.

There’s the usual two-person conversations that happen with a 58-strong audience.

“Hey Mark. How’s Oregon?”

“Hey Jude. Oregon is amazing. But tell me about Portland. Because I’m sure that the 50 member audience mostly stuck…

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An Empty Goan Tale

I had wished they would all go away….and they had.  Every last one of them.

My over-talkative colleagues, my clingy boss, my non-existent boyfriend, my ever-questioning maid, the ever ringing phone, the overflowing mailbox.

And then, with a snap of a finger, someone’s cruel idea of a joke, I was there. I was away. On this island, with not a single human in sight. And a very very hungry stomach.

If I were in a finer mood, I would have seen things differently. I would perhaps have seen the waves thrash on a bed of rocks, spraying fountains of glistening green and frothy white. I would have imagined the sand lying beside it like a well-oiled woman because, in my brighter moods, I pretend I have an imaginative mind.  But the sand did bask in its watery glow, reflecting the silver of the rising sun, the palm trees and the rocks galore. I knew this because I saw it later in the photographs.

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For now, my eyes were fixated on a dog. A big scrawny one, with a pink patch on its belly that reminded me of diseases I could catch that would have me barking as wildly as that mad dog. Continue reading

The Public Rape of Salman Khan, and related rape humor

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Let me begin with another inappropriate quote from George Carlin “People say you can’t joke about rape.  That rape is not funny.  I say, fuck you….I think it’s hilarious. I can prove it. Picture Porky Pig raping Daisy duck. See? And I know what men are gonna say…Daisy was asking for it.  She was coming onto Porky.  She had tight feathers.  Porky got horny and lost control.  A lot of men talk like that.”

So Salman felt like a raped woman. He feels empathy. Ten points right there.

He got ripped in the boxing ring, his body ached in places he didn’t know could ever feel pain, sobbed like a two-year-old for his mommy as some nonamer Fight-Clubbed him.

He tries to imagine, as per the drug addled capacity of his room-temperate IQ brain….that this was perhaps how a raped woman felt. Continue reading

My Envy – In All Honesty

You know what I can’t stand? Insufferable prick-writers who are probably describing say….an action scene…the two-faced son-of-a-gun who raped your wife and stole your life’s belongings while pretending to be your best friend is on the loose, and you chase him on one of those fancy-named sports cars, with a nine-inch revolver and a backup butcher knife just in case, and suddenly, just as you almost nailed the line-of-sight to shoot the motherfucker’s tires like a piñata annihilated at a five-year-old’s birthday bash, you stop. You gear down your story to screech-halt, no not because you want an urgent pee so that you don’t have to halt in between the brutal head smash that you have planned. But because there is a sunflower field, in full bloom, and you’d probably be OK with it if it was a tear-jerker scene, holding the hands of your dead wife, while the wind blew through her hair, and the salt of your tears mixed with the sweat of your palms, adding further adrenaline to your enraged screams for later, but no…you are just admiring the sunflower field….the hue of the falling sun warms your hardened heart, the dew drops on the leaves are your uncried tears, the fucking cat in the corner is your listlessness personified, everything is oh so sad and whimsical.

And what’s worse, while you, the semi-turned-on reader is now cursing the inappropriately timed tease of the writer, you suddenly notice a few other readers gliding to a gentle pause as they step out of their own literary rides, totally entranced by the copulating sunflower bees as if they were on psychedelic vines dished out by shamans in Peru. You know…. the manicured reader, stepping out of her ride with the refinement of Convent English, her husband is a ‘dear’ even after the three no-good brats masquerading as the ‘Saints’ in hill station-schools, and in every flower that stand together, they see the nuances of writing, the finesse of the technique that awakens the fellowship that drives the bravery of the protagonist, right before he beats the pulp of the bored-to-coma villain who is probably contemplating suicide by ingesting a pound of sunflower seeds than listening to the drivel slushed around.

 

 

50 Shades of Black and White

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Disclaimer: Mild erotic content

“So if I do end up sleeping with this guy, can you tell me what would be your psychological analysis of the situation?” said Lena, raising an eyebrow across the table.

She watched as Serene’s hair fluttered in the gentle breeze of the fan, as an image flashed before her – Lena leaning forward, planting a gentle kiss on the therapist’s lips, savoring her shock and the crumbles of the strawberry lip balm.

“I would say you were giving in to your symptoms,” replied Serena, matter-of-factly, clearly unaware of Lena’s wandering mind.

“Sexual needs are a human requirement.” replied Lena, brushing aside her own hair roughly.

“Yes. But what’s the worst that could happen if you don’t sleep with this guy?” Serena smiled at her, almost as if the therapist enjoyed the mental bondage that she was putting Lena into. Lena could have this guy, but she shouldn’t. Lena had to undergo the turmoil of watching him every day. Like a hungry predator lusting after a deer grazing a few feet away. Continue reading

Transcendence for the Nympho

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Warning:  Explicit Content

As George Carlin would say, what’s with all these writers. Could you stop describing the damn clouds and get to the fucking.

But it is kinda breezy. In a wistful way. The leaves gently quivering.   And really there is no fucking. There is actually a fucking ban. So its more like….making out without clothes…only we are actually just talking, and the clothes are still on, but obviously we want to take it off…even if we were just talking. But I guess that’s not really your scene. But do wait up. We could probably have a kiss. A nice hello kiss. Not just for the readers pleasure. I tell you we aren’t just a bunch of asexuals holding hands, and getting off on it.   There really is a ban. Not a moral ban, like the RSS-valentines-day-gives-us-a-headache kind. Not even a legal one, like adulterers-be-stoned kind. Its more of a spiritual kind. Like…not eating onions on Thursdays or whenever. Or chicken for a month. I think it teaches you restraint. Then you don’t end up shopping on sala Continue reading

Idiot’s Guide to Transcendence

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Hrithika sat cross-legged under the Bodhi tree. Well, at least as much as her leg would cross itself. Lakshmi, the facilitator for the day, not only crossed her bare legs as the wind ruffled her hair, but had a strange boneless quality to it, as if they could collapse into multiple folds if there was a pressing need for it.

“And the moment you find yourself lost in thought, observe the thought itself,“ said Lakshmi in a soft breathy tone, that drifted to her with the wind.

Jealousy, Hrithika summarized her thoughts in response. Suhaas’s eyes were glued to Lakshmi’s legs as if they were the point of meditation. Well, at least, he was concentrating on something. Even if it was at the cost of her own concentration.

“Just return your attention to your breathing.” said Lakshmi, nudging them. Continue reading

Samosa Fairy

Now my mother is always of the opinion, that when I have an impending time crunching situation before me, a bus to catch, a road to cross, a deadline to miss, I have a tendency to pretend that I am in one of those badly made, over-dramatic movies, where everything is in slow motion right before the terrifying car crash, the one that I am unfortunately in, and thus scheduled for a reduction into a Heinz tomato ketchup induced molten metal.

I would of course disagree with her, vehemently, and perhaps start a well-timed argument regarding her interference in my life choices, well timed because my mom would be stressed about my impending situation to vehemently argue back that she actually saved me from marrying that no good tattoo artist, who probably is dying of post traumatic drug overdose, or one of those fancy sexually transmitted diseases.

But she had a point. I could never relax on a beach or spend an entire Sunday afternoon sleeping and ‘wasting’ my time, cos then I would be stressed at all the time I wasted. Anyway, to cut the rambling, it was in one of these relaxed situations, that I found myself chasing a bus to an important interview, with a barely tucked in shirt, and one leg in a pant, and the rest of the wardrobe streaming out of my bag, and a bagel stuffed into my mouth, when I realized that this time, I was not going to make it. The cab driver, the one that I had recruited post my enlightenment about my need to seek out stressful situations for the purpose of relaxation, decided to turn on the music, a soft Fur Elise piano rendition.

Now I don’t know if you guys agree on this, but think of a stressful situation, say you were supposed to book movie Continue reading

Just Another Terrible Love Story

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Let me tell you a story about love. The thing about love is that the lesser number of times you’ve had it, the more of an expert you seem to be. I don’t agree to this. Now, I should be the one to tell this story, cos I’ve fallen in and out of love so many times, to actually know that it’s a fickle thing.

But look at Jisha and Benny. You probably think they got it right. They fell in love when they were fifteen, and then they grew up, got married, set shop, had a few drinks, and then a few kids, almost in that order, cos I don’t think they’d have done all that in their right minds. They had an advantage you know. Its easy to fall in love when you’re like wee small and have no clue about yourself or LOVE or the zillion expectations you ought to to have of your partner.

And I can tell you that love has some strange ideas of existence. For instance, Tiina and Tony. Tiina was a slut. But Tony loved the crap out of her, even when she blew snot through her nose, and was whiny. She was pretty, and he was a really nice guy, I tell you. But Tiina went around being slutty. And why did she do it? She’ll tell you she was searching for love. Cos she fell in love with anything she fucked more than once. Yes, that’s the thing about love. You can search for it even if you’ve found it. And Tiina finally found it again in Jonah. Continue reading

Satan in a Pickle

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Luc slithered into the garden of Eden, and waited for the length of his body to coil itself behind a bush.   Even from the behind the cover of the dense bushes she was beautiful. Perhaps this would be the last time. The last time he ever saw her. Did he have the courage for it? He took a long breath, stealing himself. She sat there on the rock by the tree, her hair falling over her nubile breasts, rising and falling with her every breath, staring into nothing. Around her head was a crown of tulips. His own workmanship. He froze the moment into his icy soul, imprinting a mental picture into the mammoth glacier that was his cold dead heart.

He slithered softly to her side and waited, waited for her to catch sight of him, waiting for that smile to light up her soft face. He couldn’t lose his courage this time. What was it now? The fiftieth? It was getting embarrassing. He was turning into quite the laughing stock at the angels counsel. He remembered the taunt in Gabriel’s voice. “Lucifer. This is a serious job. The future of the entire human race depends on it. Perhaps this rebel angel act isn’t your thing.” Continue reading

Fake ‘I love you’s

“What’s with this I love you business yaar. I’m done with it.   You say it when you pick up the phone, you say it when you slam the phone. And while we are at it, what’s with these phone conversations. I can’t take those anymore, either. Why must we talk on the phone everyday. I have too much to deal with right now. You have too much to deal with right now. Dude, can we not deal with each other at least. “

I lit my cigarette and let out a blissful exhalation, thanking my stars I wasn’t the dude in question. Wasn’t it last week that I got an unusually graphic description of Sana’s sex life with the same dude? Sana wasn’t prone to dramatic swings in opinion, I thought figuratively scratching my head. Continue reading

Diwali Grinch

I was the Diwali Grinch.

The whole office is lit up. Everyone is in a damn sari. And as if to remind me that I am not in one, there is a sari strung up from the ceiling falling over my damn laptop…cos that’s the happy thing to do. And then I have people climbing up my claustrophobic workspace to tie a cutout lantern from the ceiling. It was cubicle decoration day, and we were competing with the liquor bottle team. They had placed around fifty empty ( 😦 ) beer bottles on each cubicle, dressed up of course, stripped off their earlier life, like reformed criminals, and now in Christmas lights: yes we beg/borrow/steal our traditions as per workplace constraints against fire, and nobody likes those fake fire drills, so we definitely can’t take the real deal. Continue reading

What Women Want….on their birthdays

The truth of the matter is that I don’t know what I want for my birthday.

The truth of the matter is that I want you to find it out. Dip into my subconscious, read it like a book, and figure it out for me.  Until you do that, I’m going to pretend I actually know.

Of course, I won’t tell you what I want. OK, now its my fifth birthday with you and you have consistently brought costly shitty stuff that you should know I don’t like. Its obvious you don’t love me as much as I do.

You want to know what I want? Why cant you just ask me. NO…not “shall I get you a necklace?” Because now I know what you are going to get me, and that is just unromantic. You are ruining my surprise. Just ask me something leading. Continue reading

Pinky and Commisioner Sasha

As a part of the “getting over all this shit” campaign, Pinky had decided that what she needed was a complete makeover, and as everyone knows, all makeovers begin with ones hair.

That however, was a little difficult in Pinky’s case, given that she had already undergone too many makeovers and with the current state of her hair, her hairdressers creative options were, unfortunately, severely limited. In the last makeover period, Pinky had been given a permanently straightened look and a razor cut and now the only makeover possible was curling the permanently straightened hair so that he artificially recreated Pinky’s look prior to any kind of makeover. This look was aptly termed the “Back to Square One” look, charged at Rs. 1500/-. Pinky was overjoyed with the ‘new’ look and had rushed back to the office to show it off to all and sundry. Continue reading