To dye or not to dye! That was the question and is the question in everyone’s minds when you first see that illegal white immigrant. This is back when the blacks were the majority! Do not worry! I am of course talking about the status (read colour) of my hair. But now, slowly, the previous minority whites have become more and prominent.

If it is just a strand here and there, you can just usually pull it out and that is the end of the hair-raising story. But eventually, you will reach a point when you have to take a call!

In my case, the decision to dye my hair took its own time though the whites came quite early. At that time, I was managing a hospital of my own. My friends and well wishers used to tell me, “Sir, do not dye your hair since you are the Manager of this hospital and you must look senior (read old)”.

This was very important because if I had to recommend someone for a surgery or an operative procedure, patients would feel reassured if the Surgeon looked ‘senior’ (old) or healthy (read plump or chubby)!

In my initial days, there were times when patients used to consult me and then go to the adjacent room to consult my senior—who actually had stopped operating on patients and only used to offer advisory services. It used to be so frustrating since he could be suggesting the same thing as me; nevertheless, the patient would listen to him right away.

That is when I realised the significance of looking older in private practice which by some weird logic apparently translated to experience.

In fact, even when I got married, I did not dye! (If you read that line loudly you will get the reason why I placed the exclamation!). If you glance through my marriage photos then you can notice how unwell I look (I was in fact not well) while my better-half indeed looked better. At that time I attributed it to poor make up but now I have realized that it was because of those whites. Despite this even after a few years into married life I never did dye! (Using the pun for so many reasons)

In the initial days of marriage (the period when we are very sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of the spouse), my wife used to gently enquire before any function or event if there was a likelihood of being shot (by a camera of course). “Do you want to dye your hair?” to which I would always reply, “I will never dye! (read it again aloud!)…my hair!”

Of course I should not have forgotten the James Bond movie, ‘Never Say Never Again’. The movie was not so great but the statement is!

So what was the turning point you might ask?
The first one was when one of my patients gave me a big shock. It is human tendency to look at any mirror to see your reflection and over a period of time you get used to your face however ugly or good looking you are. Since yzzzou have been seeing your face from birth you will never realise how young or old you look till someone points it out to you.

On that particular day, I was helping out one of my junior colleague with her thesis in my clinic. I used to be the one-stop-point of thesis-writing since I used to love research and being part of the whole deal. But more on that later. For now, let’s stick to the matter in hand. So this particular patient saw me with my junior colleague who was possibly 3 to 4 years younger than me. Later on, when I was seeing the patient, he asked me “Is she your daughter Doctor?”

When I shockingly narrated this incident to my wife all she said was, “Thank God that drunk patient (I am sure he was drunk now that I think about it) did not mistake her to be your wife!” See why priorities matter!

Then another incident happened very soon on the occasion of my daughter’s first birthday. I even met an old friend and told him that I do not dye my hair so that I look old. He placed his hand on his balding head and told me, “At least you have a choice!”Silver lining is not that hard to find. But very soon, it was time to see the album and that was quite a shocker. When it comes to any photograph of any function, it is human nature to see his or her snaps immediately. And then to see people whom you like a lot and finally people whom you hate a lot. If there is any more patience you may glance at the remaining neutral people. So I was sitting in the hall listening to the comments when I heard my little niece all of ten years old commenting to my wife, “Why is Sriram uncle looking so old?”

And that is when realization dawned on me and I decided to dye!

At first most of the time I would go to the parlour but then when I became experienced, I used to occasionally do it by myself.

In fact, I have started advising people on some aspects of dye such as-

  • Always use no ammonia dye.
  • Prefer the international well known brands at first so that you can tolerate them well.
  • Apply a little dye behind the ear and wait for ten minutes the first time you dye to see if there is any allergic reactions (consult your doctor of course if any).
  • Before applying the dye by yourself, make sure that you use disposable gloves (buy it if you are not a medical professional with access).
  • Also apply petroleum jelly around your forehead area so that the dye’s stain will be limited only to the hair and not the skin.
  • Select a colour that works for your skin tone properly (there was an article in Daily Brunch on this).

Now if you see my son's first birthday celebration album you can make out the difference! It is also why I always show that album to everyone much to the chagrin of my daughter.

Therefore, the chief lesson is to apply dye before any big photo session since in the days of social media, image is very important. It is a materialistic world and let’s not forget that. Maybe when I am more than fifty years old then I may stop dyeing since it may not make much of a difference!

In any case, after so many years of marriage now my wife does not have to think too much before she gives her opinion about me. So after the dye she always says that, “Don’t worry you can Dye (!!), you do not look very young now!”

To which I cheekily reply, “Whatever you say Mi Amor (this is purely because of Narcos), I will be 18 till I…Dye!!

About the Author:
Dr. Sriram Nathan, an ENT and Head and Neck Surgeon working at the Narayana Health Hospital in whitefield, Bengaluru.

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