A small box in ‘ferozi’ or turquoise blue arrived for me this morning.It contains home made kohl or ‘kajal’ as we refer to it in India. It has been made by one of my paternal aunts in my village. A lot of time , patience and love must have gone into making it. And I am touched and thankful because I have been using home made ‘kajal’ since childhood following in my Ma’s footsteps. I suspect very few use it nowadays. There are many smartly packaged, easily available commercial brands now which boast of ‘herbal’ power too.And of course these days,women of all ages, shapes and sizes seem to prefer the branded eyeliners, eye pencils etc.My sisters-in-law and nieces complain that the ‘kajal’ smudges.It truly works fine for me,folks.Maybe smudges in moments of passion…but erm…so does lipstick 😀 . Got reminded of Yves Saint- Laurent’s “The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy”.
I know I sound totally like a dinosaur . Many fashionable friends of mine raise their perfectly shaped eyebrows at my my ummm…’un-hipness’. But I am unapologetic about it. So Orson Welles says “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn”. Home made ‘kajal’, besides being a labor of love, is great for the eyes. Here is a link which shows how it is made and its benefits :http://www.makeupandbeautyhome.com/2013/07/my-homemade-black-kajal-preparation.html
That got me thinking that in India, traditionally and I suspect till date, a woman’s beauty or her appeal is talked about in terms of her long hair, the flowers she puts in her hair and her ‘kajal’. There are in fact a plethora of romantic songs, gazhals, poems etc on a woman’s eyes and her ‘kajal’. But in the West, all three -long hair , flowers in the hair and ‘kohl- have been signs of rebellion I feel. Thus, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were many who dropped out of the norms of society and established a counter culture. One sign of doing so was to not cut their hair like all the people in the offices but to keep it long and wild.The buzzword “flower power”, coined by Allan Ginsberg, was not only about wearing floral fabrics and flowers in the hair ,but in fact had a deeper meaning as people started to dole flowers out to the public and even to soldiers. Till date, heavily kohl-ed eyes does denote being ‘edgy’ or ‘hip’ or ‘individualistic’ or ‘radical’ in the West.
The solidly entrenched Indian-ness in me sometimes makes me wish that my guy romantically talks about the ‘kajal’ in my eyes. But he is one part Scottish and one part Indian, with the Glen-Haggis-DNA being more dominant 😀 So in his mellow Laphroaig moments of telling me.. erm… that my eyes “are the only light I know from extinguished constellations’ ( Neruda) , there is no bloody reference to the ‘kajal’ that I put painstakingly for him 😀 I no longer have my erstwhile knee-length hair which sometimes the poor man had to brush as a punishment for being glued to the sports channel 😀 And the tragedy of my life is that the man is allergic to the fragrance of a ‘mogra-gajra’ ( small strings of the mogra flower worn by Indian women in the hair) ! Well, I guess I should be thankful he doesn’t wear the kilt.What if he were a ”true Scotsman” ? 😀
That’s all folks! Happy Sunday!
For the guys:
For the gals :
The above can also be vice-versa 😀