I visit there every 3 months. I sit in the big maroon armchair and stare at the scissors, the spraybottles, and other thousand tools plonked in the monochrome vases. The music is faint and soft, and the heads are bowed down; some eyes are glued at the morning daily, some at their messengers. Amidst this soothing symphony comes the brutal snipping of metal scissors, and bunches of wispy warriors fall like colonies of timber in the latter half of the 19th century….
I have been visiting this world famous barbershop of my hometown – B S Gents Parlour – since I was a little kid. Despite our relationship stretching longer than a decade, that cunning fox never misses a chance to rob me of all my money, and sometimes even makes me pay more for what looks like an awful haircut. Barbers are real fuckers, I tell you.
I won’t lie, I have always wanted good hair. In my childhood, I’d see that poster of Shahid Kapoor with light golden brown floppy hair, and the bangs, and crave having a similar hairstyle. But every morning my mother would pour gallons of coconut oil down my scalp, grab that stupid little comb and flatten my hair like you level roads under Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojna. And I’d go to school, wondering if my mother got her certificate of beautician through bribes.
Then, as modernised societies germinated, youngsters started keeping gelled spikey hair, all stiff and cold. My friends looked stupid because they overdid it. But it was trending and so I felt like giving it a try too.
“People with spikey hair are potential menaces to the society. You know how a spikey hair boy pulled Munmun’s necklace and ran away. “My mother argued. I wanted to convince her that not all spikey-haired guys were sublime assholes but she won’t listen to me anyway.
So every 3 months I’d go to B S Parlour and sit in one of the chairs, checking out the equipments and prepare myself for another ridiculous payment he asks me to make. He’d smile and I’d watch his red sunken eyes and guess how many quarters he had last night. This is a funny conversation we have without actually speaking. He considers me a prey and I consider him a monster. Nice story.
“So, which haircut are you going to have today? ”
“Make it short. “I’d say and shut my eyes, and concentrate on the music that played in a distance.
In the end, I always got cropped hedges on my head that were awful even by Podrick’s standards.
“60 rupees. “He said, one day. I thought he was kidding.
“What? 60? ”
“Yes. “He said, and added, “Inflation. ”
Recently, I went to a salon in Delhi. It was owned by a middle aged Muslim guy who possessed cold, no nonsense looks. I had not watched TV for the last 6 months so when he played that awful song called Ramta Jogi on a loop, I didn’t ask him to stop. Anyway, he kept talking about politics and Yogi Adityanath and appeared to be an extremist in nature. When I sat there, prisoned inside the cutting cape, his cold sharp steely scissors grazing at the back of my skull, he asked me if I supported Yogi Adityanath. There was a danger in his voice, a threat which he tried to conceal, but which permeated through anyway.
I did a few calculations. I thought about imparting in him a bureaucratic approach, however, when you’re immobile with a shrap object hovering over your head, you don’t act like the nuns of the high Septon. So I told him what he wanted to hear. I told him everybody was evil out there, and how Owaisi was actually a messiah, and it should have been a mosque there, and all that bullshit and then he smiled and asked me what kind of hair I would like to keep.
“Trim it. Use trimmer number 4. Roll along the sides till midway. Cut the rest till 3.4 inches with scissors. Go easy on bangs. And of course, take care of the sideburns. “I elaborated. “And please change the song. ”
He nodded, switched the channel to Zakir Naik’s preaching, and then went on with the job. When he was finished my hair looked exactly like the one done by the dope at B S Parlour. I think barbers have a code.
“60 rupees. “He said.
“Inflation? “I asked.
“Yes. “He said.