Conversations with hair dresser
November 6, 2009 Leave a comment
Of the many persons who serve us, I am generally fond of observing two – Barbers and Auto drivers.
Till i was old enough to go on my own and choose my hairstyle, the visits to the Saloon were strictly controlled by my father. When he felt it was time for his haircut, i had to follow suit – whether or not i had enough hair growth to justify.
So i was generally grumpy and serious when i was accompanying father.
‘Aaaakaashavaani sheidhigal vaaashippadhu saroj narayanswami’ and the news that followed probably were the only words that were spoken or heard. My haircuts were acts in silence.
After i mustered enough courage to refuse joining my father and deciding the timings myself, my mood perked up and slowly i started having conversations with the barbers.
I normally find them simple, honest souls never the one to hold back an opinion.
The present saloon that i visit is more of a parlour, probably frequented by women more than men but i prefer due to the fact that there is absolutely no waiting time as of now. Touchwood.
The last 6 months i have been a regular, once in 3 weeks or so. The charges which initially started at 100 has now increased to 120.
I have had atleast 4 different persons working on my hair with each one having his own preference for conversations.
Most of them are multi-lingual, so i could speak in local language, Hindi, another south indian language or sometimes even english.
Just around the corner, there is a small ‘Shani temple’ whose priest was once killed by some petty (no longer !) thieves by smashing his head with a boulder.
Unaware of this, i went to the saloon and eased myself into the chair.
Snip…Snip…Snip and the tongues started rolling.
‘Do you know sir, there was a murder at the temple’
I had seen some cops as i was walking (always prefer to walk) but wasnt sure why.
‘Yeah i too saw some cops…what happened ?’
Then he gave what perhaps is my most graphic account of a murder. Except actually ‘performing and demonstrating a murder’ he had acquainted me with all the ‘aspects of a murder’
He reserved the punch line for the last.
‘All this for a paltry sum of Rs. 2000’
While i was glad that the amount of Rs. 2000 qualified to be called as ‘paltry’ by this guy, I was also aghast at a certain coldness in his approach.
I was wrong.
‘sir, god will not spare these guys. what do you think ?’
‘but God should also show that he is around…isnt it ?’
I gave a sheepish smile unsure of what to say.
Mercifully he changed topic to discuss the problems of travelling alone in night. He was staying at a distance of atleast 12 kms from the saloon.
‘I dont have a problem sir…I need to see a movie atleast once in 2 days…So from the saloon i go to my home, freshen up, have dinner and then it is straight to the theatre…once in 2 days this is my routine’
‘Do you feel secure coming late in the night ?’
‘People at my home keep shouting…But i dont mind..see sir, the need to see a movie is far greater than the risks associated with it’
But the topic i really “fear” discussing with him is cricket.
‘sir with such run rate, dhoni should have been sent ahead right sir ?’
‘but you cant trust dhoni sir’
‘harbhajan is bowling too many no balls…what do you think ?’
It is generally good fun to hear him as he confirms the generally held belief that India is a nation of 1000 million selectors.
Possibly we could have 1000 million team combinations.
Normally i wouldnt be the one to venture into a cricket discussion, even if start the conversation but i broke my own rules when the IPL season was on.
Wanting to know which team he was planning to support in IPL finals, he emphatically said ‘Chennai’ team.
‘Dhoni is the captain sir…i am a great fan of Dhoni’
I wanted to needle him a bit.
‘But didnt they defeat us badly ?’
‘Yes but i dont want an australian ‘Shine Warne’ to hold the trophy. Indian should hold it’
I laughed and told him.
‘But Dhoni is not going to win without the support of Australians in his team’
‘I dont know that sir..but dhoni means dhoni’
I wondered whether he knew that his ‘hero’ made almost Rs. 40 lacs per game. It is not difficult to realize why cricket is such a rage in India.
We create ‘local identities’ out of nowhere.
Inspite of all this small talk, the guy is sharp enough to look for additional income.
‘Sir Oil massage ?’ he would religiously enquire after the haircut.
‘Next time’ I usually respond.
Recently I realized that the second guy was nowhere to be seen for a long time, i enquired :
‘Where is your mate ? ‘
‘Smart guy sir…he learnt the trade here and he has gone back to his native and setup a big saloon’
‘You dont have such aspirations ?’
‘Headache sir..we have to find place, money to invest etc…then worry about customers…here i am happy doing my job and enjoying my life as it comes’
I have a sneaky suspicion that apart from the reasons he mentioned, he also would miss such ‘conversations’ without a worry in the world.