Alok Gupta, a close friend, recently recounted this story.
A US-educated-now-India-returned man (often referred to as a boy), came to “see ” the girl, obviously, to meet her and decide if she was fit to marry, as often happens in “arranged marriages”. They met at a posh restaurant in Delhi, the girl accompanied by her brother, and the boy, chaperoned by two septuagenarian ladies, the mother-in- law-to-be and her sister. The food consumed, the conversation turned to hobbies, work and ultimately, the subject for which they had arrived, i.e. the wedding.
And then the ladies turned to the girl, and went-
Ladies: We want to see you after you have washed your face.
Girl, incredulous: What?
Ladies: Go on. Go, wash your face in the cloakroom and come back.
Girl’s brother, gobsmacked, to the boy: Do you really want this- her to wash her face ?
Boy,not knowing how not to offend his mother: No , i mean – i don’t know
Girl:Lets go home. Walking out with brother … End of story.
This is the new age face wash, it appears. It did not happen a century, decade, year or even month back. It happened last week. And that too, with a US returned man..
It seems that, Indian society has matured from “Muh – dikhai (face-see)” to “Muh – dhulai( face-wash)”. In the good ol’days- the daughter in law came home, all clad in a ghunghat( a viel), and the elders of the house would lift the viel and see her. It was popularly known as “Mukh- dikahi”or “Face – see “.
If it wasn”t bad enough to be the object of abject display post the wedding, things have now turned even better. “”Face – see ” has now become “Face – wash”and that too, before the wedding. Must be something to do with the plethora of face-washes hitting the market. “Whitening face wash, brightening face wash, glow-wash, etc etc.. ” Maybe a brainwave of the FMCGs (Fast-moving-consumer goods manufacturers, another name for the soap and shampoo makers) this time. Prospective brides need to wash their face before they be seen. What an idea, Sirji? Perhaps we should extend this to the prospective grooms too.. What with male film stars parading the latest facewashes and creams, there is certainly no dearth of face washes, after shaves and stuff to choose from.
So, to the girl in question, a smart suggestion -the next time round, you go to see a prospective groom to match, do ask him to be ready with a stock of with the latest face-washes.. Musk, Vanilla, whitening, hardening etc, and then ask the man to choose and use.. So much for men’s lib too, why should they be left behind?