May 12, 2012

The bald truth about cynicism

One question before you read anything in this post. Please take a paper and pencil and list down the ten most cynical men you have met in your life. He can be a famous cynical celebrity; your school's principal; or even your distantly related uncle who has staunch doubts about the Indian economy and your company's future in particular (though he thinks that the MNC where his son works is well hedged against all risks). Now that you have written down the names, count the number of bald men in this list. How many did you get?

If you are at any stage of balding yourself, I bet you will cynically complain about the purpose of this exercise, question my sanity and move on to the next complaint. If not, there are bright chances that your answer contained more than half of names in that list. Why did we do this exercise? Let me take a little detour. I had a recent conversation with a very cynical man on a very sensitive topic. What started as a conversation turned into an argument before culminating in a long 'there is no hope' sermon which I was forced to sit out. Thankfully though, halfway into the sermon, this sudden hypothesis struck me and it seems to grow in logic with time as I think of it. Can baldness be related to cynicism in men ?

As I thought further, most cynical people whom I know turn out to be bald, though the corollary does not seem very convincing. Most cynics are bald. All bald men are not cynics.

The anthropologist in me became alive and sought an explanation to this phenomenon. And of course the explanation came very quickly with the help of the etymologist too in me. Cynicism, when roughly translated in Tamil, is called a மயிராப் போச்சு (Mayiraa pochu) attitude - which literally means 'gone like my hair'. Each day in the early stages of balding, as one stands in front of the mirror and contemplates the fresh hair loss, a cynic behaviour should have crept into his mind. I can also come up with an etymological sequence to this explanation -மயிர் போகுது .. மயிர் போச்சு .. மயிரே போச்சு .. மயிராப் போச்சு ! (The above sentence is too hard to be translated into English without spoiling its meaning. Pliss excuse non-Tamilians :-) )

Now, do you see some sense in this hypothesis? If yes, let us dive deeper. Hair loss in men is generally associated with fears of not getting a girl to marry, which in turn may lead to a prolonged phase of being single, which in turn leads to cynicism. ("Marriages are made in heaven ? Fine, let me live a bit longer before kissing death then") In due course, there also comes an episode on hair loss treatment. Depending on its success rate, a person can escape from cynicism. But unfortunately, it happens only in medical miracles.

You would have seen those hair treatment advertisements of the 'Before-After' type. In fact in Tamil Nadu, there is a pseudo-celebrity who features in all 'Before-After' hoardings in these advertisements. You may not remember the concerned brand that is advertised but if you have travelled around here, you could not have missed that photo of the person wearing a black suit against an yellow background with a youthful look on his face too.

Evidences suggest that these hair treatment attempts have an accelerator effect on the onset of cynicism in men. Though the customer care service of certain mobile networks are fast catching up in competition with this as a reason for cynic behaviour, let us rather keep that discussion for another day.

I have also seen safer guys who immediately got into a relationship as soon as they realised they were balding. I must say that these people are highly risk-averse; possess good strategic foresight and have the potential to build successful careers in investment banking. Needless to say, many such friends of mine are pursuing/ already possess an MBA Finance degree. See ! Foresight !

Another interesting observation one can make is the reference to the 'lost hair' in most conversations of such men. They use it in their humour ; to divert conversations ; to express anger ; and even to express the sense of no-hope. It seems to play heavily on their subconscious mind. On an extended note, most men even turn to atheism or agnostic belief during this phase. If the loss of that little, flexible, flagella-like structure can make a man lose his belief in bigger things like punctuality of local trains and the integrity of IPL matches ("all fixed games, you know?"), how can small issues like God survive the doubt ? A bald English man may most certainly doubt God's ability to save the Queen , doesn't he?

I am very curious to see if this hypothesis is taken up for research by some tough-to-pronounce University. If the research wins an Ignobel Prize later, I sincerely hope that you will strongly support to give pioneering credits to me in that research. The above sentence should explain my optimism and one should easily infer that I am not bald too.

I leave it here for the anthropologists, psychiatrists and behavioural scientists to lose their hair further on this issue. If you have truly written down that list and seen my side of the hypothesis, thanks for resonating my curiosity. If you have strong anti-thoughts , please note that I do not write in my original name; the reference made to Tamil Nadu  may not mean that I necessarily live in Tamil Nadu and and hence your attempts to locate and attack me may only draw a cynical response.


Disclaimer: This post is seriously intended to elicit a curious laugh and a little after-thought but never meant to hurt anyone. I truly admire many bald men who carry themselves with style and elegance in the society and I could not even think what I would do if baldness hits me too tomorrow. Hats off to them. As of now, let me continue to wear that little scarf on my scalp under the helmet to protect me from balding.


  1. Hee hee.. Well written.. That insight of the black coat-suit man in all hair loss clinic ads is just profoundness.. :)

    1. Thanks Anand .. You can very well add the name of that brand as a brand quiz question .. (still thinking what that clinic's name is)