Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bad Hair Day

I like to believe that i have an eye and an ear for the mundane. Before you start making snooty assumptions, this in no way is a virtue. It just helps you to while away your boredom at places where time passes very slowly, minute after slow minute . I have this habit many of you might also have. Getting a hair cut almost every fortnight, almost that is. For people who are perennially cash starved, a barber's shop is the equivalent of a spa salon or sauna bath. This explains my fetish for this fortnightly ritual.
A visit to a barber's shop can turn out to be a pretty boring ritual if you have to contend with a queue of people waiting for their turn. And this is what happened yesterday. A lesser mortal might have given up to return some other day. I decided to persist.
Before i describe what happened hence, i would like to paint a mental picture of the barber shop for your convenience. This shop happens to be the one of the very few in the vicinity of my college campus. Needless to say, poverty stricken students who cannot even afford a peep inside Jawed Habib's gay-but-plush salons, throng this shop in large numbers. The shop has three "rotating chairs" opposite a large mirror. For those who have to wait, there is a large table behind the chairs where five people can sit comfortably and eight people can just fit in when the queue is really large. There are three ceiling fans. Out of these three ceiling fans, one runs at full throttle while the other two groan atleast four times while completing even one rotation. There is a brown colored cupboard in one corner of the room which i presumed was used to store clothes. It was only yesterday that i discovered that it actually is a "television with sliding doors" straight from the 80s when Weston had a monopoly in India. I won't blame you if you haven't heard of Weston. When that television is switched on, you won't get a picture but the raster scan patterns are clearly discernible along with the kind of shrieking sounds that are so common to black and white war movies. Thankfully, there is a radio with a better audio quality. By the time you have successfully managed to figure out which song is being played, the song is already over and you move onto the challenge of cracking the next song. There is a whole assortment of magazines which can fit in the archives of any national museum. There is an issue of sportstar where Deep Dasgupta is rated as the best wicket keeper India has ever produced. Just for your information, he doesn't even figure in the Ranji Trophy squad of Bengal cricket team now. Then, there is this issue of Outlook where the writer goes gaga over Mamta Bannerjee. Mamta Bannerjee, who? Of course, there is an issue of filmstar from yesteryears featuring Mamta Kulkarni on the coverpage in some itsy bitsy costume. I did tell you i have an eye for the mundane.
My attention is distracted from the magazines to the cries of a little girl whose turn has come and who apparently doesn't want to get a hair cut. In an attempt to jump the queue, i volunteer to go ahead and take the girl's place and give the girl an apparently gratifying smile. Only to be silenced by her mother's mind-your-own-business-you-pervert look. Meanwhile, one of the barber is busy attending a call for the last 1o minutes leaving behind a host of harried customers who have already gotten down to the mother-sister level of abuse. Reluctantly, i also join in. The person next to me decides to read the same issue of sportstar that i am reading. So he almost climbs on me in an attempt to keep pace with me. Turning the issue upside down also doesn't help as he adjusts his head accordingly. Defeated, i offer him the issue. He very cordially turns down the offer only to resume reading it again the moment i get back to it. Frustrated, i put that vintage issue of sportstar back in the basket. I look up only to realise that another barber has also left the shop to attend an emergency phone call. This leaves us with only 1 barber and a queue of 7 people. The league of mother-sister gentlemen has already left the shop by now. Left behind are peaceful denizens like me who have enough time to spare. To add further twist to the tale, the only barber left behind seems to be a novice. He keeps fumbling with his instruments and each time he does that, the girl resumes her crying. Realising that i am the last person in the queue, my patience starts to wear thin. I politely ask the barber about the prospect of the return of his colleagues. The barber mumbles back something in Marathi and there is a huge chorus of laughter from everyone inside the shop. Laughter is cathartic. Even the girl stops crying and bursts into peals of laughter. My plea to translate it into Hindi draws another uproar of laughter followed by applauses from the more excited ones. Ego bruised, i get up and leave the shop. Having walked a few steps, i look back. There is even more laughter. And the two barbers are still busy on their phones.
Now, i know how the disgusting habib became The Jawed Habib. He values customer loyalty. The other barbers don't.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very Nice

Wins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Divya said...

Hahahaha!
1- yes, u do notice loads of mundane details... funny magazines :P
2- mind-your-own-business-you-pervert? Need I say anything? hehehe wat a benevolent gesture tht was..
3- u actually turned the magazine upside down??
4- well look at it this way, u made a lil girl laugh :P

Yashika Totlani said...

Youch!! Thats one bad experience!! I know somebody who 'almost' gets fortnightly haircuts... quite a pattern according to me. Amusing, to say the least. Anyway... being in a strange town with people speaking a funny language can be unsettling. Pick up a few marathi lessons from the marathas around you and next time give that barber something to think about. Meanwhile, visit a habib and get that haircut. ZS can finance it for you :P
Everybody has had moments like these... the best thing to do is to learn our lesson n move on.

Post dripped with ur chracteristic humor... no 'fav picks' this time, the entire write up was hilarious =))

P.S. Happen to have an old Weston at home :)
P.P.S. What was this salon called, btw?

Wins said...

All the best for your DDP presentation

try focussing on the subject matter of your presentation rather than analyzing as to what the room looks like and what the "gentlemen" are doing...[:D]

Hidayath said...

Perhaps you'll also remind your readers how much those haircuts cost. Must've noticed that, no? :)

Psychochan said...

lol!!!omigod, you DO have an eye for the mundane and shall we say detail?the post is uproariously funny!!!! thoroughly enjoyed it... REALLY... and cmon, not to sound like one of those fanatical, parochial types, but dude, 5 years is long enough to learn a language!!! but oh this was fun!!!

arunabh said...

@Divya
1.I told you so. And no, not all the magazines were funny. I take offence to that. Sportstar can be considered to be a kind of bible for any sports enthusiast :)
2. Well, well! Time and again i am being proved a pervert. And you are enjoying it aren't you? :P
3. Yes, and i also tried folding the magazine in some other ways as well. I can't describe them for the lack of a good vocabulary
4. Oh, thanks! If only i could have also made the mother happier :P
keep visiting :)

@wins
Do what i will, i still always get an AA. And i did again. I can't help it. My awesome ppt skills :D

arunabh said...

@yashika
Oh cool! Would like to make acquaintance with him :P ( I am presuming it cannot be a her)
I know i know. Talk of people who become polyglots in a very short span of time. And, i couldn't pick up one language :(
Get a hair cut from habib? Yuck, it will happen only when i am dead.
Won't divulge the name of the salon.. tad too shady :P
Keep visiting:)

@Hidayath
Ohh they come pretty cheap. Just 25 bucks.
Remember, i am talking about bombay!
Keep visiting :)

@Deepti (psychochan)
I know. I am bad at remembering new routes and even worse when it comes to picking up a new language. But, as i always say, shall persist!
Keep visiting:)

Wins said...

@ Arunabh

So what if you get 3 straight AAs....
still you won't give us any treat.:(

the lazy knight said...

Dude, barber shops are not mundane :P I have been thinking of writing of my haircut experiences for a long time now (yes yes i am the one who gets haircuts 'almost fortnightly' too)...in my case i lie back, close my eyes and listen to the general chatter, hindi news channels playing on the tv or 1980s pardesiya type songs you would not hear anywhere else but a barber shop....
P.S. U obviously need to cultivate your barber...mine is quite loyal to me...and thankfully he is isnt a gayish habib :)

Anonymous said...

The title is so apt.
People who stick to you like leeches, they are so commonly found everywhere, sooo true naa? This was a laugh riot. .. bbut i am very sure this must be some very shady salon .
You and your strange ways of money minting :P

~ruchika

Sayani said...

i must say thats a very observational on your part and very interesting to read on my part ...

hmm get to know abt habib's feeling :)

arunabh said...

@lazy knight
aah! Welcome!Welcome to the league of "gentlemen who are forthright,err,forthnight with their hair". :P
Thats so relaxing naa.? Closing your eyes, relaxing and listening to the general chatter going around while the barber gently masaages your hair and cuts them simultaneously :)
keep visiting:)

@ruchika
So true, so very true. And such people are to be found not only at barber's shop. Even while traveling in a bus, or sitting inside a local or waiting at a dentist's shop, you are bound to bump against one or two of these kind :)
keep visiting:)

@sayani
Thanks for dropping by.
Thanks for the nice comment.
Get to know about Habib's feeling. Are you suggesting that you can help??
Keep visiting :)

Kakoli Mukherjee said...

ha ha...a very new and refreshing look at getting a hair-cut..very well depicted..made me remember the days when I myself used to cry like that little girl when I was young and my father used to take me to the salon for a hair-cut..while he had a shave..I used to cry because the only cut I was allowed to sport was boy's cut:(

Do keep writing

kritzmat said...

a bit of trivia if you please,
a) my DAD loves getting those fortnightly haircuts as do a couple of people from college.
b) there was a Weston television in our house when i was really young. Apparently kept for the same reasons that you mentioned. Though admittedly it was the attachment of the septuagenarians!
c) be it posh salons, dentist's or ANY other public place or receptions, its a crime to stock anything more recent than magazines and journals from yore.Some might even be lacking a cover. :|

i like these everyday narratives of yours the best. :)