Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Neo Barberians

Do you ever have this feeling that things around you are ever so slightly changing, slowly, innocuously, but suddenly one day you have ended up in a situation that is completely different; and you wake up and feel like you have been Ripped-Van-Winkled ?

I had one such experience a week ago. I had decided that I will have a hair-cut and as usual, paid a visit to the friendly neighborhood barber shop. My usual visit time is early mornings on a week day or later afternoon on weekends when his load is not at his peak. This time, however, I chose to go on a Saturday at 6PM – it was quite obvious to me that this was his ‘prime-time’ and he was running at his full capacity – all the three of them were busy with customers and there were two others waiting ahead of me. I too decided to wait.

…I wait; for the first time, I really look around the “shop”. There are lot more variety in magazines and news papers, than I could recall, with couple of English papers; also scattered around are must-in-every-barber-shop-two-months-old filmfare. I see he had upgraded his black and white TV to a color TV; a post-cricket match analysis was on. I watched that for a while; when those guys ‘returned to the studios’, after a bit of channel surfing, he settled for a music channel playing Hindi songs, where the VJ, with an accent, was trying to advise listeners on the ills of not having a steady ‘significant other’. I picked up a magazine and was trying to find out why King Khan felt he is not the numero uno in Bollywood, when my turn for the chair came. In response to the question from Barber #3, I told him I wanted a summer cut and settled down. Then something else caught my eye; in the chair farthest from me, barber #1 who had just finished a hair-cut, started applying some white solution on his customers face; Apparently, the customer was getting a facial. Through my hair-cut (I should call it styling; perhaps), I watched with fascination the whole process of facial – on the reflection, of course. B #3 was finishing up on the left side; then one of the phones rang; just like in the Airtel advertisement, each one of us reached for our mobile; and just like in the Airtel ad, all of us were left with sheepish grins, when the B#3 walked across to pick up his phone – a land line. He talked on the phone for a while, leaving me waiting.

In the meantime, in the adjacent chair, Barber #2 had finished the hair-cut and had gone on to the next one – it was not the usual shave – but apparently a “head massage”. He applied loads of oil on his customers head and went on to massage it, rub it, beat it, knock it in turns… it was a riveting sight to watch; I was amazed at the repertoire of services offered here; my barber returns from his call and proceeds on to finish; he asks me if I need a head or face massage, facial, shave … I reply in negative; for two reasons: I still need time to adjust and get used to this new era of hair-styling and men-makeovers; secondly, for a guy who used to go with 20 bucks to have hair-cut and then have a dosa at the nearby darshini, I’m not carrying enough corpus to buy any of the new services…

As I pay and exit, I ask for his phone number and store it in my mobile. Maybe the next time, I will have to make an appointment and actually carry my purse: I may choose to have a “make-over” than a simple summer crew-cut; got to change with the times.

No comments: