As an Englishman I have always held a paternal affection for the wiry hairs protruding from my chest. Their presence represents a rite of passage from pock-faced adolescent to cultured gent. After all, would Sean Connery’s James Bond have been able to charm the pants off female acquaintances without his sizeable chest barnet? I think not.

Yet having seen male actors such as Hrithik Roshan swagger around B-town, brandishing torsos as smooth and shiny as a freshly-waxed Rolls Royce I concluded the hair fest on my breast had to go. And so it was on an ominous Thursday afternoon that I found myself outside one of Mumbai’s finest waxing establishments, in the vain pursuit of Bollywood glamour.

“He needs to be waxed” declared my partner-in-crime to the owner, who then assessed me with suspicious displeasure, as if I’d just asked to date his mother. I was then cautiously led downstairs to an underground room, which had the metallic gadgets and surgical lights to make it the ideal set for the horror film Saw. “Nice and cozy”, I commented.

After awkwardly removing my shirt, I lay down on my back and a hot, golden substance was spread over my chest hairs. It appeared to be honey, but that would be wrong. The only time hot honey should be applied to one’s naked chest is in the privacy of the bedroom by a marital partner, not by a mustached forty-year-old in a dimly-lit underground basement.

With the wax applied, white strips were then rubbed vigorously into the hair-affected areas. This relative calm was shattered when they were viciously yanked away with the triumph of a wizard pulling a rabbit out of his hat. What remained was a barren patch of skin that had taken on an angry, red glow.

I didn’t blame its anger. The tearing off of strips was a painful affair. You knew the pain was coming so it was just a case of grimacing and awaiting the fateful and crunching rip. I wanted to keep up appearances so my face was contorted into an anguished smile, all to the delight of my torturer. He ripped the strips off joyfully as if Christmas had come early and he was tearing open his presents. No wonder Salman Khan prefers using a razor.

After desperately searching for any straggling hairs on my wretched chest as if each one were worth a small fortune, he relented. I was left with a ghostly white torso which resembled a freshly-skinned chicken with a bad case of rashes. My verdict? I may have a chest smooth enough to waltz down the catwalk, but I would happily accept the body hair of King Kong rather than endure that miniature hell every month.

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