Mirror Magazine
4th March 2001

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Our cover girl this week. Shanel models a creation by Sonali White of "Haddai". Her hair and make-up were done by Cheryl of CG Academy and she was photographed by Anuruddha Medawattegedara.

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Why can't a man be more like a woman? 

Why can't a man be more like a woman? Why can't a man sit in front of the television, without changing the channels every few seconds? Why does my father think he needs to exercise his fingers constantly by pressing the buttons of the remote control whenever he is seated in front of the TV?

For the past few weeks I have been watching an advertisement where a man begins to sit on a chair. I have yet to know what happens to him once he is comfortably seated. Does he sit and talk? Does the chair break? Does he fall off? What is he advertising? Chairs? An insurance policy? A perfume? I do not know. The moment the man appears on the screen and begins to bend his knees, my father changes the channel. Women resign themselves to watch a program from beginning to end, no matter how many commercial breaks there might be. But men are always impatient to see what is happening on the other channels. Why can't a man be more like a woman? 

Housewives have become the central focus of all TV channels. They are being given cookery lessons by teachers, chefs and even popular actresses almost "every hour on the half hour". They are taught how to boil potatoes, how to get the "bitter out of bitter gourd", and how to make omelette without breaking the eggs. On Wednesdays while my mother tries to master the arts of preparing Indian dishes -Aloo gobi, Gulab Jamun etc, I watch the chef with fascination. He has the kind of face one sees on murals. 

It is taboo these days to call someone when a popular teledrama is on air. If you do you will find everybody answering in monosyllables. You will get the feeling they are in a hurry to go somewhere. Perhaps to answer a call of nature? No. They are impatient to get back to the teledrama they had been watching. 

But only the truly devoted can understand all the teledramas. The same actors and actresses playing the same roles appear in all of them. Two lovers holding hands at seven thirty in the night are seen quarrelling furiously at nine thirty. A mother who appears as a tyrant in one scene is docile and benign in another. "This is not the continuation of the teledrama you watched earlier. This is another one with a different story," explains my mother with great patience. They baffle me nevertheless. When their offspring decide to marry against their wishes, parents in teledramas promptly have heart attacks. First the mother falls sick, when she recovers it is the father's turn. This goes on and on like the circle of sansara till the son, unable to marry the love of his life, himself falls tragically ill. 

It is more fun to watch the commercial breaks. If you want to make your son come first in class give him a certain porridge for breakfast. If you want to make a cricketer out of him make him drink a certain brand of milk continuously throughout the day. If you are a father, to show you love your kids you must first buy an insurance policy then die and your kids will remember you with affection on their graduation day. If you are a mother, things are easier, all you have to do is buy the right brand of cheese. If you shave the stubble on your face with the right razor blade all the gracious girls in the world will be at your feet. If you want to have fair skin, rub a bit of cream on your face tonight and tomorrow morning you will be as white as this paper you are holding in your hands. If you go visiting late at night carry packets of noodles with you to offer your hostess in case she would have run out of them. 

All in all the people in these advertisements seem to have nothing to do except argue over the quality of cement, brush their teeth and worry about leaking gutters. No wonder they need to keep packets of paracetamol in their handbags and almirahs. But they are fun to watch, these advertisements, for they are easier to understand than the teledramas and more hilarious than the comedies. 

Yet, to enjoy the commercial breaks in peace I have to be alone with my mother. The men in my life have an uncanny way of finding the remote control - even when it is hidden under a cushion - and using it to the maximum. Oh, why can't a man be more like a woman? 


A master touch

By Ruhanie Perera

Cheryl GooneratneMany of us go through various stages of ambition during our growing up years. For Cheryl it was no different; 'teacher', 'pilot', 'doctor' were all on her 'when I grow up I want to be' list. Somehow there was never a 'hairdresser' or 'beautician' on that list. 

"That's because I never imagined that I would be a hairdresser," laughs Cheryl Gooneratne, who runs 'CG Academy', her own hairdressing and beauty school cum salon. Yet, she does remember a time when she did have a fascination for hair. "I was only five years old when I used to demand to be taken to a salon. I used to get this thrill out of going there and having my hair backcombed and set," she says with a smile. 

Having just finished a client, scissor and comb in hand, she starts to fill me in on how by chance she stumbled on her talent and made a career out of it. 

After her A/Levels, the hairdressing job she took on at Ramani Fernando Salons, came as a welcome break. Although initially Cheryl took it on as a trial job, after some time she decided that she loved it so much that she just couldn't bear to leave it. To her it was, "such a happy job because you create beauty, so as a result you learn to look for the beauty in anything." Thus what started out as a three month stint ended up as a 17-year commitment. 

It was only after17 years that Cheryl felt that it was time to leave her comfy 'nest'. Backed by her then boss Ramani Fernando she found her wings and took flight; one that led her to her own salon at Galle Face Hotel - "it was a rather small 200 square feet, but at least it was mine". At the same time she decided to open her own school as well and that was the beginning of CG Academy. "This was my chance to give to other beginners what Ramani had given me," says Cheryl, a holder of many diplomas, including those from Vidal Sassoon and winner of many local and international awards for both hair and make-up, attributing her success to the support she has received from Ramani Fernando over the years.

After a year spent out of the whole 'salon' atmosphere, Cheryl now starts out on her latest venture. Opening March 12, at Millennium Park is her salon 'Headmasters'. "At 750 square feet it's a long way from my first 200 square feet," says a thrilled Cheryl proudly. 

According to her, "Running a salon successfully is quite a challenge," but she seems to have it all under control. Offering just about everything that's available in any top salon, 'Headmasters' (open from 9.00 am to 9.30 pm.) covers haircare and beauty care including massages, facials, waxing, pedicures, manicures...in short the full works. Cheryl's personal theme for the salon is one hundred percent service at an affordable price.

She also intends to be at hand whenever needed, but in the event that she may not be able to attend to everyone in person, her staff personally trained by her guarantee the 'Cheryl touch'. Added to that they have all been in 'people friendly' jobs at some point and as a result have that experience as well. 

Cheryl and her staff have gone all out to create an atmosphere that will make the client feel "comfortable, wanted and pampered". Their intention is to ensure that the client will be accomodated at all times. "I'm going to see to it that I won't have to refuse any clients," says Cheryl gaily, getting many comments from her regulars who were at the salon during the interview. But it was obvious that they all were fond of her and she admitted to have learned a lot through their constant feedback.

This adventure is both hectic and challenging, but at the same time it's a new and exciting experience for Cheryl. "Sometimes the idea surprises me a bit too, since I never saw myself doing this sort of thing." Convinced that she can be rather unambitious at times Cheryl feels that without her husband's constant prodding and pushing she'd have never made it. "And of course thanks to the faith that my partner Shyam Singh has had in me." 

'Headmasters' marks the beginning of yet another chapter in Cheryl's bright story of straightening, perming, colour and mousse. One that she begins significantly by going back 18 years, for the salon will be opened by Ramani Fernando and as her first client for the day at 'Headmasters' Cheryl has chosen her first ever client. "They have been with me over the years and it is only fitting that they share in this special occasion."


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