March 12, 2007


A Chinese restaurant, pickup only, that I got dinner from recently has on its wall a "Certificate of Completion" awarded to, I presume, one of its staff. It's for completing a "Smart Staff Food Safety Seminar".

Now that sounds like an appetizing, forgive the pun, seminar. I'd give up my hot and sour soup to attend.

Elsewhere on the same wall is a slickly produced calendar, mostly in Chinese, but with this title: "Sweet and Great Melons and Fruits Beverage Article." It has a photograph of a cut honeydew melon that looks luscious indeed, but the inside of it also looks like ... well, let me just say that it reminds me of Georgia O'Keefe. Here's a sample of her work.

As I'm standing there waiting for my order of General Tso's Chicken and soup, a young woman wearing skin-tight bright pink pants and a matching pink headband walks in. She looks around -- at the menu, at the melon, at the guy behind the counter -- then suddenly grabs her breasts with both hands and runs out.


At the bathhouse of a campground, I'm having a shower when I hear a guy in the next stall curse, then call to a friend who's waiting outside. "Hey Larry? Do me a favour? Get me my shampoo? Got the soap, forgot the shampoo!"

And that reminds me of an enduring source of puzzlement: why shampoo?

I mean, shampoo is basically soap, am I right? In a liquid form? If you plaster the rest of your body with what's called soap, why not your hair too? And in fact you now get "handwash" and "shower gel" which seem to be soap in liquid form too -- meaning, and looking like, shampoo. So why would this guy, having left his shampoo behind, not use his soap on his head and be done with it?

Related question: what's the explanation for all the varied stuff that manufacturers claim to put in their shampoos? One that was foisted on me at a motel said on the label that it contained "carrot and grapefruit extract." Now I like those two, but why should they be in my hair? What would you think if I accosted you on the street and said: "Hey! I've been rubbing carrot and grapefruit in my hair!"

My bet is, your reaction would be a little different than if I said: "Hey! I just used this shampoo -- see? it has carrot and grapefruit extracts!"

Though, as always, those two remarks seem to be saying the same thing. Educate me, someone.

But of course, the cake was taken by a shampoo I got at a friendly B&B in North Carolina. This I purloined from the room intact, without even breaking the seal. I intend to present it to some museum, or maybe create a museum for it myself. For among other extracts, this shampoo had, get ready, nettle.

Yeah, and last time I checked, that nettle stuff is supposed to sting you. Why would it be in a shampoo, and why would anyone buy such a shampoo?

The ways of marketing. Endless puzzling fascination.


It's March Madness in the USA, and if you don't know what that is, you obviously haven't heard of college basketball in the USA. Yep, this is the month of the NCAA tournament, 64 teams go in and one emerges national champion.

And there's huge interest around selecting those 64 teams: driving yesterday ("Selection Sunday"), I heard radio talk show after radio talk show devoted to discussions about who would get in. People calling in from all over the country just to say something like:
    "Hey Sean, how you doing man? I'm doing great! Hey, I just wanted to ask, what d'you think of the chances of Old Dominion?"
And the talk show hosts might say something like:
    "I don't think there's a team in American right now that's playing better ball than Georgetown. Don't tell me 'bout how they played in December, January. Look at them now. I think they'll get a high four seed, maybe a three. And you know what? John Thompson's son coaching Patrick Ewing's son at Georgetown! How special is that?"
And here's a grab-bag of phrases that you'll hear thrown about this time of year: "Final Four", "RPI", "strength of schedule", "Sweet Sixteen", "body of work", "back to the basics".

Damn, it's a strange, delightful country.

And no, I have no idea what RPI is. (It is not the venerable Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, NY). New one since I used to follow March Madness more regularly.


Oh yes. That Chinese food I got? I wait right till the end to eagerly open my fortune cookie.

It says, in full and bold: "To Return".

I don't know. Is this a cryptic comment on what I am going to do sometime fairly soon, "return"? Or is a cryptic order to return the food to the restaurant? What?

Over breakfast the next day, I listen to a beautiful rendition of the "Gayatri Mantra". Hmm. Maybe there's a cosmic alignment in the works. Maybe extra-terrestrials are sending me messages about returning to India.


Rahul Siddharthan said...

"I mean, shampoo is basically soap, am I right? In a liquid form?"

Actually, it's basically detergent. Which raises the next question -- if detergent is bad for your skin, why would it be good for your scalp?

In fact, it isn't good for your scalp -- it strips off the oils -- which is why they sell conditioner (to be used after the shampoo). But they claim that soap is worse for your hair because it's alkaline and hair is acidic, so it does something to the follicles or whatever. Others claim that soap + lime juice solves the problem and is excellent for your hair. I dunno.

anantha said...

RPI is "Ratings Percentage Index". Apparently, the basic RPI formula is 1/4*(Winning Percentage) + 1/2*(Opponents' Average Winning Percentage) + 1/4*(Opponents' Opponents' Winning Percentage)

You can find (officially) here, though there are a number of sites that update it real-time as games get over.

There is a wikipedia page as well, that you can probably find by urself, for sure.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

You make me feel so liberated about MY shampoo (non)requirements.

Please clear up the mystery of the Manic Mammary Mauling. (Hypothesis - "Omigawd, I KNEW I should have used silicone and not this noo-fangled gas!")


Rahul Siddharthan said...

JAP - one should probably ask Tara Reid about that one. (If that doesn't ring a bell, look up her pics from P.Diddy's party, where she displayed a catastrophically mauled M. Not linking -- not worksafe and may traumatise the viewer.)

km said...

If you ever come across LSD-laced shampoo, send me a sample. That would be a great, you know, head and shoulders trip.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Rahul, thanks for the explanation. I'm more persuaded than ever to stay far from shampoo and conditioner. I don't know about soap and lime juice, but I like honey and lime juice, myself. To drink though, not to plaster on the hair.

Anantha, thanks! After your comment and reading what you mention, I find RPI dates back to 1981! so it was around when I followed March Madness regularly. Wonder why I never noticed, or maybe I've forgotten.

JAP, I did my breast, sorry best, to clear up the mystery. But the lady vanished faster than I could follow on my creaking legs.

km, now you're talking. I suggest we write a polite letter to Proctor and Gamble and spell out an excellent recipe for a new shampoo filled with LSD and (why not) Mandrax and ganja and charas and so on. In fact now that I think about it, isn't that what the dudes of the '60s used in their too-long hair?

Anonymous said...

Er.. Dilip:

Its "Procter & Gamble" not "Proctor & Gamble"


Dilip D'Souza said...

n!: Yeah, but I was referring to that not-so-famous company founded by a guy who invigilates at exams, and his partner Vijay Pandurang Gamble. Among their products are Fail and Loverly, Parke Bluco Biscuits and Chickless chewing gum.

Mridula said...

Dilip, have you heard about Bichoo Jari and Kungis soup? Well, that is
Nettle Soup
for you. I tasted it in Himachal and it is quite good, I must say.

Anonymous said...

AAAh!!! gotcha! THAT Proctor & Gamble. For a minute there, I thought you might have been referring to the marketing juggernaut in Cincinnati.

And isn't Mandrax the Magician?