Offlate I can see one art form slowly disappearing from the Urban scene. I am talking about our very own Barber shop. I still get my hair cut in my favourite barber shop. I grew up in a small town called Nagercoil- the southern most town in India. Even now when I go to Nagercoil, I make it a point to visit Balan Barber shop in Chettikulam. That old man has cut my hair when I was a 8 year old boy.
Every year when I go there, he gives me that broad smile and says " Chennai water has ruined your hair". The manner in which he criss crosses with his scissors is an art by itself. Hair cutting is in his blood. Even when he is not cutting your hair, he would go on clicking the scissors. There will be an old tape recorder in his barber shop that will be playing old MSV/ Mohan hits and Illaiyaraja songs.
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He would then start cutting my hair. None of the present day parlour hair specialists can match his artistic brilliance. He would then take a blade and break it into half and put it inside a razor holder. The shaving behind the ears will start. It would give a tickling sensation and every time I would smile when he does that.
He would put Ponds powder on my neck. and brush off the hair from the neck and shoulders. Then he would apply lather on my cheeks and start shaving. The cheeks will finally have the baby bum feeling. After this, he would dip an Alum block in water and keep it on my cheeks. It is the best after shave lotion in the world.
Now comes the most important part. He would pour a handful of Navratan oil on the head and would start playing drums on my head. The massage is hundred times better than the Ayurveda/ Kerala and Thai massages combined together. The massage would make me to sleep. To give the final touches he would crack all the stiff joints in the body.
Finally he would again spray that water mist on the face and say " Done". I would then take a Rs 100 note and give it to him. He would take that money from me and keep it inside his inner shirt pocket and return Rs 40 to me. Yes! The total cost for all the treatment is just Rs 60. If I get the same treatment from any new-age parlour, I would have to definitely part away more than Rs 1000.
When my friends boast about their new hair style that they had from the new parlour in town, I would just smile and tell them " You have no clue about Balan Barber shop". Balan uncle must be more than 70 years old. His brand of barbers are slowly disappearing from the scene. I am worried that this art form will soon totally disappear from the scene in another ten years time.
If you are not from India and if you plan to visit India anytime in the future, please get a hair cut from the Barbers in India. I am sure you would love that experience. I will be going to Nagercoil soon and I will get my hair cut at Balan Barber shop.