When I came to Pune from Chennai, three years ago, newly married, and joined work here, the first thing that baffled me was the number of girls on the streets who covered their faces with scarves while traveling. In fact, almost 8 out of 10 women I saw had a scarf on, completely covering their hair, face and neck, with only a thin slit opening for the eyes. That too was sometimes covered using goggles.
Now I have seen women wear scarves in Chennai too, so its not entirely a shocker, but they are few and far between. There, only two-wheeler riders, and that too only some of them cover their faces like that. Those who do are either hiding from parents and relatives when stealthily going on a date, or are considered to be too beauty conscious. Here in Pune, I see even pedestrians wearing scarves. I asked my cousin about it and got the answer that it is because of the dust. Pune has a dry climate and a day out in the sun can dehydrate your skin quite badly.
So that's the reason that women here are so fair complexioned and have such glowing skins! Newly married that I was, my inner beautician was on high alert, keen to please my husband. Therefore I had to heed to that inner voice and I went ahead and brought two scarves for myself. After all, I needed to do everything I could to keep my husband interested in me!
The first day I wore it, the scarf kept falling backwards from my head. The way I wore it must have been definitely wrong and infinitely comical, because everyone kept staring at me. The stares were still bearable, but the suffocation I had to suffer from was certainly not! I wondered however are so many women able to keep their noses and faces covered thus without experiencing any discomfort. Or was it that they did experience the suffocation, but chose to tolerate it compared to the loss of the beauty of their skin?
I persevered with the dacoit disguise for exactly a week, but that was about it. I could take it no more, when on a breezy day I went on a bike ride with my husband. The breeze was pleasant, and it felt a shame to not enjoy it brush my cheeks and play with my hair. So that day, I took off my scarf and let in the breeze. I enjoyed the air rushing against my skin, playing hide and seek between the strands of my hair. Maybe this was wrecking havoc on my skin and hair, but I didn't care. For me, the embrace of Nature, the feeling of flying and the independence that comes with it is more important than physical beauty.