During my early childhood, the day started with one teaspoon of charcoal made out of rice husk on the left palm and another spoonful of oil on the centre of the head. Only after cleaning the teeth with the charcoal using fingers and finishing the bath in cold water, we were allowed into the kitchen for the cup of hot coffee. The routine changed only on days when my dad took me for a hair cut. That day the bath was after the visit to the salon and that too without any oil.....!
The visit to the barbershop ( those days it a very naive place ) was not a welcome affair always. The barber made me sit on a broad wooden plank placed on both handles of the chair in front of the mirror. The hairs cut from my head fell on my nose, hands and thighs creating lot of irritation.
But when I started visiting the salon alone, the attraction was some reading materials which was never allowed in the house eg ....the film magazines.... Until I was in the school, the system continued. After I entered the college, applying oil on the head was considered not suitable for the matt finish hairstyle.....! From there on and through the university days, the long hair was the fashion which didn't necessitate visit to salons.
The trimmer with the razor blade sandwiched between two comb like handles was used whenever required to trim the hair and to prevent it from hitting the shoulders.....
The use of trimmer continued for a few decades even after I joined the Bank. But the hair was kept fairly short. Trendy long hair style was not considered decent enough at the workplace.
The visits to the salon got revived when I lost patience to stand between two mirrors to trim the hair. There were couple of instances when the cut became quite uneven due to haste. This was also because of my failing eyesight without glasses. Nowadays, I am not able to do my daily shave without the help of a concave mirror presented by my daughter.
The other day I went for a haircut to a newly opened Hair Boutique in my neighborhood. There were three, four youngsters ahead of me in the queue in the salon. I was watching with interest the styles in vogue. The first customer really dictated what he wanted. After the job was done, it looked as if a round plum cake was kept on top of the head. The sides were almost shaved off. The hair on the top circle/oval was trimmed flat. The second boy had a different choice. He had a parting on the left side. The hair was cut to the minimum up to the parting much above the upper level of ear lobe like a well mowed lawn. The rest of the hair was cut in varying lengths and dressed up with hair fixer to give look of bunch harvested paddy stocks kept with a tilt. The third got a long tuft of hair made at the top rear portion of his head leaving the rest of area cleaned up. I was reminded of the old priest of the temple whom I used to make fun of during our younger days.....!
There was yet another youngster who got his haircut to look like the Sigiriya fort of Sri Lanka.
I thought of giving a close crop of the hair on the sides and back of the head. But I could not dare. The head was already like a stadium ground with a horseshoe shaped gallery of grey hair. Had he cropped the sides, it would have resulted in an Anupam kher style.....! As my turn came , the chief barber, no I should have referred him as hair stylist, invited me to the seat. I dropped the news paper I was reading and sat on the chair looking at my full body reflection which I seldom get to see at home. I realized the hard fact that I had put on lot of weight around my waist as I had lost all my hair above the temple. After the preparations like placing a felt around the neck, tying the apron covering the shoulders etc. he asked me " close or medium...?" . I said " medium ". He took the pair of scissors from a small microwave oven like cabinet and with the help of comb made a few cuts here and there. Within five minutes, the job was done. Since there was rate card displayed in the name of their association, there was no need to ascertain the charges to be paid.
Though I didn't believe in bargaining for any concession for professional services, I ventured to tell him " look, I don't have much hair on my head. Your job was very easy...." He quickly retorted " Sir, it was very difficult to search for the available ones and cut them to size one by one..."
He silenced me with his quick retort. I had to leave the place thanking him without getting rebuffed more.........