Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Groom Theory!

Part of the reason why Mercatus chooses to be anonymous (atleast for most) is because anonymity is a great platform to delve into a side of which I know little. For me, it is easier to delve analytically on an issue and in the process miss smelling the roses by the wayside! In fact I wanted to pen on the recent Nobel prize in Economics for Game Theory contributions, in fact, one of them had worked at my institute. But then decided against it!

So this post will look at my observations about personal grooming (clothing especially) in the West. I have landed here only a few days back and may my political uncorrectness be pardoned.

Whites are fantastic looking in the US, i can gaze at quite a few of them and think of the grooming that must have gone into the effort. Obviously they carry it nonchalantly but manner cannot hide effort! While yours truly is not one of the most well-groomed people around and doesn't believe in it, I can feel the pinch around here. Yeha pe, grooming can so easily set you apart.

And the expectations are so high that they are telling on me! If you look at the finesse of the dress-up of people, you did wonder at all the reasons that they do this! Is it hygiene? I don't buy that! A nation that don't wash their ***es cannot count that as THE most important reason. My sister has an interesting reason and it has to do with pay-offs! In a society that doesn't have arranged marriage, and mate-searching is the only way out. Looking good pays off well. It enables you to choose the most good looking and well groomed partner. It sends the right signals (apparently love is a biochemical process!) and assures the other partner that there are no surprises about the person's manners. [Apparently good looking/ well built people would be selected by partners in the past, this was at a time when diseases were the norm and any kind of ugliness signalled all was not well with the person's body.] So that works as a good strategy in a dating society. But then why do married people still believe in good grooming? Does the process get internalised and when divorce is always an option, does it keep people on their toes?

Thinking further is it because that there is a low cost to keeping neat here? And the expectations of good grooming go up. I, on the other hand don't believe in tidiness but subscribe to cleanliness. For me, cleanliness + disorganized = untidy, if you are not clean then the equation reduces to unhygenic!

What is the optimal limit of grooming time? Still thinking...
I subscribe to the grooming of the "last-bencher in a typical engineering college in India", just enough not to make the girls think you are a Neanderthal and at the same time delist you from any probable romantic notions of being a Don Juan.

This grooming is also reflected in the personal space they afford to others. For more than once I have had people here who would see me from 3 feet and say "Excuse me!" Yours truly would be looking left and right in an empty corridor and wonder how could patla me obstruct the other person!

My room-mate had this pet theory that grooming was a feel-good strategy and he was dressed in his best just before the examinations. Considering his high marks, obviously it paid off!

If I groom on the same lines here, then soon I would lose my touch with Indian realities and will look like the Indian NRI who scoffs at the sweaty travelling in a DTC bus/ Mumbai train! And if I don't then...

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