How I know I’ve moved and settled into a new place is if I get a haircut in that place. A haircut, to me, is a form of acceptance, of allowing that pithy activity to take precedence over bigger problems (if any), to punctuate my medium-term routine and, finally, to signal that I’m ready to spend more time where I am. (Following a close second is having a clean desktop.)
Since January 2014, I’ve lived in these places: Chennai (I), Bangalore (I), New York, Mumbai, Bangalore (II), Chennai (II) and Bangalore (III) (in that order). During these stints, I never got a haircut in New York, Mumbai and Chennai (II). All three were bad times – the first two especially – and a haircut was the last thing I was concerned about. In fact, there was the occasional overcompensating rationalisation that my own long-haired ugliness would be a form of protest against the universe.
Why I bring this up is that, in a week, I move to Delhi, the city where everything seems to be happening at the moment – mass unrest in its outskirts; severe water scarcity within its confines; a showdown between university students and an anti-intellectual estate; severe air pollution fed by its own fumes as much as its neighbours’; and the opening of the first office of the digital news-and-analysis publication I helped launch – The Wire – and now am a part of as science editor.
Here’s hoping I cut my hair in Delhi soon!