Much Ado About Knoting

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I’m too hot (hot damn), called a police and a fireman, I’m too hot… (What, we are no longer doing the Uptown Funk? Okay.) But really I am so hot, feeling so hot (hot hot hot, sorry, child of the Eighties here) that I am two seconds away from melting into a puddle leaving behind a sopping wet EKA linen tunic that once valiantly held my body.

It is not like I haven’t lived in Madras before (I did, over two decades ago), or that I haven’t been in the city since (every December for the last eleven years) but I did forget what it is like to survive, brave, no, suffer humidity in June and July. (there, I just Geotagged myself.) The weather has brought out sides to me I didn’t even know existed. Like me being capable of murderous rage. Or take a fatalist worldview, “Is anything important anymore really?”. Or slipping in and out of consciousness-bending hallucinations. Or having the ability to throw my hair in to a mean top knot. Now you know what this is going to be about (that is if the title didn’t tip you off already, in which case am guessing you are as miserable as I am).

Fact is, I can be as cotton clad as I want, heck, be a walking catalogue for Anokhi days on end even, but there is no greater feeling of relief than when you throw your hair up in a knot and feel that vague excuse of a breeze on your neck again. (Okay, taking off your bra at the end of a long day comes mighty close too.)

Not having the luxury of celebrity or time, the only way to survive this humidity is to do everything one possibly can to stay coool and hair is a big part of it. (Less ‘yo’ and more ‘yo hair stays up so nicely, tell me how?!’.) AC-Car-Curb-AC works but hair IS still a very big part of it. Having mastered the basic top knot, the option to try different kinds of knots and updos was both quickly considered and then abandoned for sake of my sanity and the safety of those around me. You know how you either have an aptitude for something or you don’t? Turns out complicated updos and simple math… Not my thing.

After watching multiple Youtube videos along the lines of ‘The perfect wispy knot in under 10 minutes’, ‘Get a halo braid in eight easy steps’ or ‘Double-knot updo for beginners’, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all a sinister plot to just make me feel utterly incompetent. (The fact that I haven’t yet blinded myself with a bloody bobby pin is no minor miracle.) So what if I juggle two jobs (the blog is one), a home, social life and some semblance of a functional marriage- I can not make a braided updo in eight easy steps, I have failed at life DAMNIT! (Hey Youtube, stop taunting me with recommended videos already.)

Today was especially difficult. After a quick cold shower (and an irrational desire to shower again after toweling off), I stared at the mirror long and hard this morning. Cotton dress by Péro, check. Cute kolhapuri chappals with neon pompoms, check. Then, on to hair. Much like every underdog sports team coach before a big game, I looked me in the eye and told myself I could do it. “You are a fashion blogger for Chrissake”, I yelled. Thankfully the madness passed and I realized, if there’s anything I’ve learnt, the one fail-safe trick I’ve mastered, it is how to work a top knot. I am a fashion blogger for Chrissake! So after throwing my hair up in a neat and efficient knot (today marking seventeenth day in a row), a quick spritz of perfume, some kohl and gloss, I exited the room feeling mighty fine. Only to be greeted by the mother-in-law who in a quick once-over seemed to question my ability to keep her son happy going by my inability to twist and tie my hair in to one glorious updo she and the ladies of her parayanam group could be proud of. Such colossal disappointment I say!

Sigh. Tomorrow is another (muggy) day.

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Mayville. Shop the artist’s prints here.

68 COMMENTS

  1. Are you seriously complaining about the weather when you are in that heavenly place of nallis, kumarans, rangacharis, rasis? And karpagam mess coffee?




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    • Thanks for the shout-out to Rasi – put a smile on my face :)

      And while the coffee may (or may) not help, as a kid who spent countless hours at Rasi in June and July, the sight and feel of Kanjeevarams only go so far to cancel out the heat. That humidity in Madras is brutal, and no amount of mulmul boxers, PJs, or kaftans from Anokhi help. Elani (coconut water) can, though. And, honestly, resigning yourself to the heat and humidity in all their sweltering glory.




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      • Ak, true , the humidity can be brutal and I lived through decades of that , but the joys of chennai are soooo many, that five baths a day seem like a minor inconvenience ???? Sigh, RASI and the streets and little stores surrounding it…..heaven on earth




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        • Kada Ramprasad is famous for its Badam Milk. Not to miss Agarwal Bhavans meals too.Before people start attacking on all the talk about food & off track from fashion. Not to miss the the shops where you get amazing materials for every fashion. :)




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  2. Boo-hoo! The MIL didn’t approve of this fashion blogger’s hairstyle choices. I mean seriously?
    What of the scathing remarks about the choices of clothes, makeup, accessories…heck inner-wear on these pages. Not to mention, the situations they are critiqued in..parties, weddings, traveling, airports, leaving the frikkin’ gym!
    In my books, it’s called getting a dose of one’s own medicine, missy.




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  3. Oh is the weather so harsh in other parts of the world? Here in Northern California I am enjoying a beautiful cooler weather throughout all the year. :)




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    • :) The first time I have ever had a sun burn when it was topping 100 one summer (early august) at San Jose. I didn’t even know Indian race can get sun burn especially after being born and brought up in a tropical hot India. :P But yes, for me, California rocks (& mostly hip-hops.:P)! Heat wise, Dubai wins hands down. Closely followed by Texas(Dallas). Madras has nothing on these two places. Ha.




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    • Very lucky man!!! I just LOVE LOVE winters like anything.. and a cool weather that has that subtle ‘winter-y’ fragrance to it is my most fav time of the year!!!!!




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  4. Ladies, must we be so catty? Their webpage, their rules.

    I, for one, enjoyed the read and encourage you to write some more.. heck start another blog. I will follow that one too :)
    P.S. A tip to stay cool: nimbu pani .Its good for the skin and for the soul :)




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  5. LOL! Thanks for the lovely post. Made for a good read after a long day at work. :D

    Also, the increasing number of catty comments on this blog only suggests you have a wider audience now..so congratulations ladies !




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  6. Yes, I for sure enjoyed your writing. Can connect with my favorite blogger of the times :)
    Its your blog, you are the queen, write n do whatever you want yaar..!! Love..




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  7. Such a refreshing read! You should share more of your experiences with us:)
    I cannot do an updo either :( watched vidoes till i got crosseyed but still nothing.




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  8. Good luck on the mom in law assessment..hilarious post. Sorry couldn’t help but chuckle at the entry. Keep it coming




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  9. Having visited Madras for a few weeks when it was in the hottest months, and then having sizzled in the dry Arizona heat, I would pick Madras in a heartbeat! As annoying/sticky/stinky as it can get, at least your sweat cools your body down in a way and you don’t feel like you have hot coals being shoved up your nostrils. Anyway, you’re on the right path with the top knot :)

    Also – and I apologize for the unsolicited critique – it’s nice that every once in a (rare) while you ladies let your readers see you have a personality! Besides the day in and day out write-ups of designer tagging, wtheyys, like/love/hate it? etc. etc., which I have no complaints against since that’s what the blog primarily deals with, every once in a while when you actually engage with your readers or branch out to something that’s uniquely you, you take the quality of the blog up a few notches. Having been a long-time reader I would say – more of this please, and just let it be easy, breezy, you.




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  10. Thanks for introducing me to Elizabeth Mayville!! Just went through her collection & loved her paintings !!
    Is humidity in Madras worse than in Texas ?
    Enjoy the rest of your trip !!




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  11. great writing!!! made me chuckle!! i bet there are hoards of us who would love to see many more of such posts:) haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate…. (:P)




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  12. If you are in Chennai, maybe you can meet the designer for Bhang. The site is on facebook with some of the most beautiful sarees I have seen, not to mention affordable. Her current collection is actually inspired by Madras :)




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  13. Ignore the (weird) haters. I live in Madras, this is the worst July the city’s seen in over ten years so all rants are perfectly acceptable. The weather’s murderous.




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  14. Very well written. So refreshingly witty!! Congrats on your haters as the number of haters is directly proportional to the a amount of success!




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  15. I loved this post/rant! Living in Chennai, I can totally relate! The top know is the ONLY way! I have had constantly damp hair for the last two months or more and it is frustrating. Tie it up and go, is the mantra.




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  16. Why did I know there would be people crapping over this piece. I just did. Ignore maadi Priyanka! Small minds at work. Kudos for a written piece on the real life problems of humidity and making decent updos amidst the glam-sham posts. You could make a neat plait but the aunty brickbat is gonna hit hard and heavy with that!




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    • Are you calling Priyanka an aunty or her MIL as an aunty. Challa confusingnga undhi. aunty will be happy to see a braid or tied up hair. Chill Maadi.




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    • Neither. I meant if Priyanka wore a kas ke plait and posted a pic, at least one commenter will say she looks like an aunty. I don’t use aunty as an insult anyway.

      Chill. Pax. Don’t read another meaning into it.




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  17. Wow… One of the disadvantage of being a famous blogger is to bear the trollers. I have stayed In Madras a few years and I never visit in summer. I agree with all that you said and more.
    And what was that comment about personal blog! This is their personal space and they can post whatever they want.
    Keep up the good work you ladies. And priyanka, post about your knotting efforts on instagram ( hope that’s personal enough ;))




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  18. One kostin:

    So those that ask you honest questions are considered “haters?” If that’s the case why would you allow Bollywood celebrities to be torn to shreds on a daily basis on these pages then? In fact I distinctly recall you INVITING negative comments :)
    Those that tear up Bollywood celebrities can be labeled “haters” then?

    Or is THAT free speech? :P

    Just checkin, girlie…




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    • Umm, I didn’t call anyone a ‘hater’. Considering I left the comment section open (with standard/uniform rules of moderation still applicable), it’s quite obvious am more than open to criticism.




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      • Irrespective of my comment above, I have always appreciated that both Payal and Priyanka are tolerant moderators of the comments on this blog. They never censor unpopular opinions and mostly deal with comments with grace and humor.




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    • You make absolutely no sense dear. Writing many paragraphs Will not make anyone understand your view point try saying something relevant in a line or two. Better luck next time.




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  19. Welcome to my world. Since I moved back to India, away from the harsh (now looking back, seemingly pleasant) winters of Northeast US, my hair has been in permanent top knot position. I may always look like I just came from the gym, but when I feel the breeze on my bare neck, I’m having the last laugh.




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  20. Such a beautiful post, Priyanka :) Keep ’em coming! It’s nice to

    Also, on a side note : I follow you on instagram and you post the most stunning images.




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  21. Oh boo hoo!! So u guys seem to be keeping up with the current trend of Chennai-bashing !! Seriously u guys should actually be made to stay in andhra or telengana!! The heat wave would’ve literally killed u guys !!




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    • Haha. Totally. Every city I have been to in India is actually the worse than the other in Summer. But I still rate Delhi as the worst for heat wave.




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