Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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In Fashion… Style on wheel

Come June 1, two-wheeler riders have to wear helmets in Chennai. The rule applies in many other parts of India as well. The fine for defying this varies from State to State. But since scooterists and motorcyclists usually come from a somewhat weaker segment of society, a fine, whatever be the amount, can be a bit of a punishment.

So, the young in Chennai have now decided that if they are going to wear a helmet, it better be fancy. In other words, designer helmets are selling in Chennai like the proverbial hot cake. And each one of them seems to style a statement. Helmets come in a variety of prints that convey a chessboard, a newspaper, a scenery and sometimes polka dots or stripes. The colours are all there to match your mood and swings.

In the past, only basic colours came, and the designs were even more basic with a line or two to beak the monotony. Today, the patterns are aplenty and they can be in harmony with your personality, clothes and even your bikes.

Chennai’s helmet-sellers say that the craze for designer headgear has sped and swung about as wildly as the times we live in. Those between 18 and 25 are extremely conscious of how they look in their helmet, and they walk a long mile to get one that boosts their ego.

Men choose helmets that flaunt their favourite sport. It can be soccer, cricket or racing, and with Formula One Racing just over at Monte Carlo, Chennai’s shop windows have an amazing variety of helmets that portray racing. Let us not forget that Saif Ali Khan’s recent “Ta Ra Rum Pum” was all about motor racing, and there are any number of helmets that are copies of what Khan had in the film.

Besides being an icon of fashion – and an equipment for safety – a helmet is also chosen for its comfort. The young prefer helmets that do not cover their chin and are semi-circular with a long, sturdy strap that helps one to use a mobile phone without much of an inconvenience. One does not have to remove one’s helmet in this case for answering a call.

Women love bright colours and go in for red, pink or even a smashing blue. I am yet to come across a helmet that sports a floral design, but I am sure it will not be long before the market gets a little more “feminine”.

But, till then, the helmet rules the heart even while it protects the head. What a wonderful understanding among the three.

(Webposted May 30 2007