Tuesday, August 23

Cut and Dry

Earlier this year, I came across an article which spoke about the return of the quintessential barber shop to France. Considering that male facial hair grooming still follows the 'with moustache / beard / fungus-like goatee or clean shaven' type here in India, our barber shops don't really face much of an issue. Besides, I'm not sure the chaps cutting hair at our local saloons would look too kindly at an instruction of "I would like a shave, but could you leave an almost 3-day stubble?"

Also, after watching The Godfather and Eastern Promises, I've developed a marked reluctance for the idea of getting a shave at the barber's. Call me crazy, but the idea of sitting there, helpless, with your throat exposed while the bloke with the straight-razor hovers over you... no thanks.

But what about the idea of having a favourite barber to cut your hair? As kids, us guys would be taken or told to make our way to the saloon and get the hideous, school-appropriate cut. Lacking any need for special preference in terms of style, it wouldn't really matter which anonymous pair of hands+scissors cut our hair. Conversation was kept to a minimum, with the guy gruffly telling you to tilt your head at particular angles every now and then. All this changes once you reach college and, for perhaps the first time, think about actually getting a genuine haircut, rather than a cranial mow. Or at least, this was the case when I went to college. The trend nowadays seems to be to look about as unwashed and decrepit as society and your mum will allow, matched by a glazed-over or beady-eyed gaze. 

Over the last 10 years, at the local saloon, I've trusted only one or two particular barbers to cut my hair. They're good with the scissors and make polite conversation, which is about all one can generally ask for. If these chaps are out for the day or too busy, I prefer to come back some other time and the routine has chugged along smoothly. Till today, that is. As both of them were on holiday, and I definitely needed a haircut before a client meeting in Bombay later this week, I had no option but to take a number and wait my turn.

My barber for the day was a no-nonsense type. I started to tell him about the exact way I wanted my hair cut, saw his stonily distracted expression in the mirror and resignedly went with the old, school faithful i.e. "Short and even." After almost a decade of ritualised, conversation-peppered haircuts, today was, well... briskly efficient. Let me put it this way - hardbitten sheep shearers deep in the Australian outback probably approach their work with more joie de vivre.

So anyway, thinking back to the article, I can't help but wonder if our desi lot will ever get around to seeing the saloon as more than just a place that men and flies congregate, enveloped in a mist of Old Spice and talcum powder. On the other hand, considering the starting price for the Plisson shaving brush mentioned in that article is approximately Rs. 4000, I think we're okay with the current state of affairs.

Song for the moment: Minor thing - Red Hot Chili Peppers


Gobri said...

Wow... you have serious phases. But this is the thing... when you blog and do well and people read you, you have to do more of it. What if Maughm or Dahl wrote only 3 short stories and did not feel like it anymore?

G said...

:) Point taken. Next post coming right up.