When I am in Trivandrum, I often find myself visiting the alma mater, Loyola. A couple of days ago, I made what could be the fifty seventh trip to the old place, this time under the pretext of LA Fest preparations. Accompanied by a dear friend, we decided that it would not hurt to see some of the old folks at the place, the teachers, the 'uncles' and the ilk.
It was during this rendezvous that I came to notice a disconcerting attitude among many of the fauna at Loyola. My friend has what could be described as a rather unruly hairstyle, a dry long black mass of keratin falling over on to the face. In a land where short, cropped and oiled hair is the norm, it stands out like a nun in a brothel. What I found distasteful was the fact that conversation between my friend and the people we met started and ended on that topic alone - the hair.
In the short, almost nineteen years of my life, I have come to accept the fact that my hometown is far more rustic and conservative than I would prefer. Yet, it came as a mild shock to discover that the malaise was deeply entrenched even in Loyola, our second home.
One member of the non-teaching staff was particularly vehement in his criticism, describing something as personal as a person's hairstyle to be against the ethos and culture of the school. He percieved as a major sacrilege, this tendency on the part of a few pass outs to forget the 'values' imbibed in one's hometown. It might be intersting to note that I have heard him speak in a similar vein at other seniors who have dared to change their attributes from the ones generally seen in the city.
Come on! How does something like a hairstyle of a single person affect in anyway the culture of a school. Is Loyola suspect to degradation on account of 'wayward' tastes in style on the part of a pass out? I believe not. And if it is, it is better we dispense with such a fragile culture and bring in a better one.
While one can be persuaded to take into account that the elderly may be slighlty set in their ways, I hold that no one should be dictated on such personal matters. What is the point of shouting slogans like 'unity in diversity' if people cannot tolerate a diverse hairstyle. This attitude is ultimately restrictive and inhibiting.
Loyola was a place where students were given a lot of freedom and encouraged to strike out their own paths. How would you justify the insistence that everybody follow a set path of conservatism even on personal matters such as this?
Fodder for thought.