Currencies come and go. You can’t get much in trade for wampum anymore, and even modern cryptocurrency like bitcoin faces an uncertain future. Value is in the eye of the beholder, which is why hair is hot.
Three men posing as customers robbed a New Delhi workshop at gunpoint recently, demanding the most valuable stuff inside: Hair.
No one understands the value of hair better than a balding man. Take, for example, this humble scribe, who not so long ago sported flowing, curly locks. I used to request an estimate before getting a haircut.
Today the trims don’t take long at all. My stylist Marianne does her best to take the lemon she’s given and make lemonade, but the only way to salvage the situation is to add vodka.
This is why I understand why those guys in India would rob a wig-making shop. They got away with 500 pounds of wigs and raw hair. Its value? Police said it’s worth $20,000, leaving the wig-maker deep in dept.
“People think wigs are cheap but they cost a fortune to make,” Jahangir Hussain told The Indian Express newspaper after the robbery. He had borrowed more than $17,000 to buy hair last month from South Indian wholesalers. We’re all sorry for his loss, of course, but you know what they say: Hair today, gone tomorrow.
Hair is big business in India, estimated to bring in more than $300 million a year. The country exports wigs and hair extensions around the world. Much of the hair is collected at Hindu temples in South India, where devotees have their heads shaved as a form of religious sacrifice. The best-known temple for tonsuring, as the practice is known, in the town of Tirupati, collects hundreds of tons of hair every year, auctioning it off for millions of dollars.
Now you see, hair is in demand. It’s a scarce commodity today, right up there with platinum and the ability to appreciate differing viewpoints. To the economy of India, it’s worth $300 million annually. To the New Delhi wigmaker, it’s worth thousands of dollars. But to some of us, hair is priceless.
Oh how I long for the days when I could stand in the sun for up to five minutes and not burn my scalp. And use a brush. And not field questions about where the nearest aging and disability office is, because surely Old Baldy must know. Hair today, gone tomorrow indeed.
Like so many things in life, a full head of hair is a gift wasted on the young. It’s like innocence, idealism and a clear slate with credit rating agencies. You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.
Jahangir Hussain, I feel your pain. I too know how it feels to be robbed of hair, to have follicles of great value taken unexpectedly. Perhaps the robbers will be caught and forced to make you whole for your loss.
I’ll never recover mine without pills or procedures. Sadly I don’t have the wampum for any of that.