Once a month, when I head to the salon for a haircut, I ask my barber to also give me a shave. On such Sunday mornings, a daily chore gets elevated to the status of a ritual—a little shaving bowl makes its appearance; a hot towel pampers my face; a chunky, grand-looking shaving brush coats my face in aromatic lather; and a wicked straight razor is employed with precise tenderness. It’s a 20-minute experience that necessitates the total uncoiling of both mind and body, and it is, without doubt, the best shave a man can get. I wish I could have one everyday, or at least graduate to using a hefty, double-edged razor and indulge in a long wet shave as often as possible, but I’m afraid I have neither the discipline nor the patience to be able to spend time in such an extravagant manner on a weekday morning.
So, I use Gillette, whose Fusion Power razor, launched late last year in the US, is now available here via the unofficial route. It costs Rs1,350 (a four-cartridge pack costs Rs650), is battery-operated, and has five blades. Five blades, you ask? Yes, five, plus one at the back for those hard-to-reach spots.
But I’m not surprised. Like death, a paunch, and Amar Singh in the same frame as Amitabh Bachchan at every important event, the periodical increase in the number of blades on a Gillette cartridge is an inevitability I’ve resigned myself to.
Anyhow, curious about its much-hyped capabilities, I picked up the Fusion Power and this last weekend, I set it to my face. With a copper-and-silver colour scheme and with bright flashes of orange, the Fusion Power is needlessly garish. But its handle is a lot thicker than, say, a Mach 3, and a thicker handle is always a good thing.
The Fusion’s vibrations or micro-pulses, as Gillette calls them, are supposed to “reduce friction and increase razor glide”, and an onboard microchip “ensures consistent power every time you shave”. All of which is true—the razor wafts over your face; razor burn is zilch; there are no shaving bumps; and in a matter of about three minutes, you’ve got facial skin that’s metrosexual smooth. Actually, the Fusion is so bloody good, you feel you haven’t shaved, and that is precisely my point.
Even with the considerably endowed Mach 3, you could, if you listened hard enough, hear the satisfying plink of yesterday being sheared off your face, and the end result, after you’d splashed cold water on your face, was an admixture of tingling freshness and mild, satisfying razor burn. In comparison, the snappy experience provided by the Fusion is as empty as an air kiss.
Now, for the two questions every man would want answered: Does the Fusion Power provide the closest shave ever? Yes, definitely. Is it the best a man can get? Oh, come on.
Even as Gillette creates its own much-hyped vision of the future of shaving, last week, the 115-year-old-Royal Enfield launched, what to me, is the best, most reliable Bullet we’ve ever got and, in the process, took the first step in 50-odd years towards contemporary products.
I’m no Bullet fan. Ever since I learnt to ride some 16 years ago, I’ve maintained my distance from these handsome motorcycles, which appear predisposed to leaking tons of oil, to breaking cables, and never ever starting up when you want them to. In fact, if the fate of the world hung on my starting up a Bullet, I’m afraid, people, I’ll let you all down.
But the new 23bhp Machismo 500, as good-looking as bikes can get, comes with an electric start; its motor, while it might neigh an awful lot, starts the process of igniting fuel in an instant. The first few times, I couldn’t quite believe it, and braving the potential ignominy of pushing a heavy bike, and at the risk of being heartily abused by fellow road users, I often shut off the engine at traffic lights. But starting up was indeed believing.
The Machismo 500 was with me for about three days and I rode it around, sunlight splintering off the bike’s magnificent chrome, lulled by the languid, familiar Royal Enfield rhythm which, at 60kmph and 4,000rpm for hours on end, leads to a Zen-like state.
The 500 rides better than other Bullets thanks to a tweaking of the combustion chamber and lubrication system by engineering firm AVL and displays a lot more alacrity compared to its other cousins. Better reliability and tractability are not the only positives about the Bullet, which has been on sale abroad for quite some time now. It feels lighter, better put together and features bits that are lots of notches up on the quality scale. Sadly, the disc brake lacks bite and, in tune with our politically-correct times, the bike also doesn’t sound as gorgeously loud as Bullets normally do. But I’m sure a quick tinker with the silencer and you’ll have that familiar sonorous exhaust note Thor probably has on his iPod. In spite of its evolutional leap, the Bullet which, at Rs1.10 lakh is unreasonably expensive, will still have its detractors. But, if you have the money, ignore them, I say. These are but bhp-crazed folks hung up on a machine’s cornering ability and speed, and little men who don’t seem to realize that no matter how fast we go, in the long run, we all end up at the same place.
The writer is deputy editor, Man’s World magazine