Indian women are seriously the most beautiful in the universe. ‘Gora chitta’ Europeans and ‘dudh paak’ Scandinavians are fine, but with their sharp features and swarthy skin tone, our ladies are the best.

So we preen and pout and pose and parade through our teens and 20s. Somewhere around the early 30s, out comes the light cavalry -- the papaya face packs, the light moisturisers and the under eye creams.

Illustration/Amit Bandre

But then like an avalanche in the Himalayas, arrive the unpleasant 40s, and by the early 50s, when the skin goes loose, all hell breaks loose. Panic sets in, as Father Time and Mother Nature become a bigger foe than Pakistan.

Enter the heavy artillery. My neighbour buddy’s second wife always scowls at me. When we meet, her eyes narrow like a mean Chinaman in the sun, and her lips take on a grimace that would put Hitler to shame.

I ask, “What’s with the wife’s ‘khadoos pados’ look at me, it doesn’t cost much for her to smile, you know.” “She is smiling,” he confesses. “She’s just had her third facelift.”

“By the way, when did you get re-married,” I enquire.

“Uh… I didn’t... same wife …different face.”

Call me old-fashioned, but the idea of a woman moisturising her skin, fantastic, all those Vicco Turmeric ads wonderful to keep the complexion sparkling -- a part of me even accepts liposuction, if you can’t ‘carb diet’ off the love handles, cut them off, it’s like cropping, or Photoshopping the body.

I even understand the need for the film stars to ‘cosmetically work their face’ -- well upto a point -- why Sridevi seeks to look like Boney Kapoor’s daughter, I don’t get -- But in India, crazed fans want their ‘Dhak Dhak Girl and Dream Girl to never age, and Bollywood heroines, well, celluloid can never be overshadowed by cellulite.

Look, I also fully buy the ‘prolong ones youth’ argument -- Christ almighty -- no one wants to get older.

But when the Jekyll & Hyde processes and the Frankenstein procedures kick in, that’s when I get a bit confused.

Ladies, stapling the skin so it doesn’t sag, isn’t that a painful price to retain the fountain of youth?

Nip tucks, pinches, radiance facials, backacials, the bizarre sounding ‘Vampire Facelift’, where your own blood is injected into your face. The very concept is as spooky as Count Dracula sucking your blood.

The point is, who are you doing all this for? What do you see reflected when you stand in front of the mirror? What does your husband/boyfriend/lover think when he looks into your eyes, and your nose is now positioned where your cheek once was?

And so to the question, to botox or not to botox ?

For what it’s worth -- maybe exercise those grey cells instead of stem cells.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62

The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.