I don’t know if it is just me, but my hair looks terrific before the hair cut and terrible afterwards. It’s like my mane is trying to get back at me, unwilling to depart from my scalp. Visiting the salon for a hair cut was quite enjoyable during childhood, now it is more of a routine. May be it is just a part of growing up; you lose interest in things as you grow up <plays sad mouthorgan music>.
In our culture when the child is 3-5 years old. They are supposed to go to family temple and offer the hair of the child as a sacrifice. It is a sacred ritual and the whole act is celebrated with relatives from far and beyond blessing the child. It is a huge deal for the parents and some even send out invitation cards for the event.
My parents used to accompany me to the barber shop when I was young. It would be something like this:
Barber: what style saar?
Parents: Summer cut, medium/short.
Summer cut, that’s it. It doesn’t matter what season it is, summer cut is the hairstyle that I would get month in and out for years to follow. It is something similar to the crew cut; it’s like cupping your head with a bowl and cutting everything outside its realms. It is a very silly hair cut, but back then neither I nor my parents knew any better.
Gradually as I entered fourth or fifth grade, we got boisterous when our mothers used to say “let me accompany you to the salon”. We wanted to venture out there alone. We sought acceleration in the phase drift of boys-men. And we sought it through hairstyle. I would look at the various posters of men in various hairstyles and wishing to get one of the Marlboro man’s haircut.
Of course in the end the visual aid of my mother screaming “My son has turned evil, he is in bad company with the rowdy friends of his” didn’t foster confidence.
Hence I would resign and then commit to the same old-same old. Summer cut please. A few years later as we entered teenage, around 13-14, visiting the hair salon would be nice. I would reach early on a Saturday morning, and settle upon the bench. Issues of film fare, Blitz and other “Angrez” magazines would be littered on the table.
With a pedantic glance, I would sneak one of them and glance it slowly. I wasn’t doing it to improve my vocabulary. Often uncles from neighboring streets would crowd over for a shave or a haircut. After exchanging customary dialogues about how politicians suck and Indian cricket team must be hanged. They will shift their focus towards the magazines.
There would be this middle aged guy in his late thirties with a receding hairline. He would be wearing a journalist’s robe, jute colored kurta with jeans; they would cast a glance of disapproval upon kids (Hey!!! teens) like me who are busy reading-cough-gawking at the magazines. Sandwiching the book between newspapers didn’t help either. Fear of them complaining to our parents would get the better of us. When our turn for the haircut came, we would sigh and slide the magazines back on the tea table.
And see from the reflections on the mirror .Those uncles devouring the magazines more furiously than us, with their eyes ajar and eyeballs swinging like pendulums from side to side.
Another thing I have observed is that, when you are waiting for your turn the radio would definitely play hippy, foot tapping or melodious numbers. But as soon as you sit on the salon chair the music turns terrible. And your face begins to shrink.
The case with TV is just the opposite. When you wait for your turn, there would be a lot of drab advertisements or boring songs. But as soon as you are under the blade of the barber, video’s of damsels gyrating in bare minimum begins.
Isn’t Murphy a bitch?
A decade down the line, it would be our chance to be those uncles. Here is hoping that someone replaces those filmfare’s and maxim’s with more socially acceptable material like hustler or playboy.
Oh how I envision Abdul kalam’s vision of India in 2020. < Plays sad mouthorgan music>