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Thursday, March 02, 2006 

A Hair Raising Story

I hadn’t met a close friend for some time, so I invited him over to my place for a coffee. It was almost six months since I met him. The moment he saw me, the first thing he said was, "What’s with the pony-tail?"

For the past few weeks I was asked this question increasingly. "It’s a long story" I said, looking to put him off. "I am not going anywhere", he said.

It was a Sunday morning a few months back. I got up, half-asleep and went through my morning ritual. While brushing my teeth, I looked into the mirror. My mane had really grown. I had been putting of the haircut for too long now. My appearance was similar to people who had been mistakenly been identified as terrorists. So I decided to head to the barbershop before I had a bath.

As one can guess, being a Sunday morning, there was a queue outside the barbershop. I remembered my reflection in the mirror and decided to wait. I frittered away time looking through a range of outdated Mayapuris and Screen (Hindi) lying outside. Bored of waiting, and suffering from hunger pangs, I was just about to leave, when I was called in.
As I entered to the loud Tum to thehre pardesi playing in the background, I saw that the barber signaling me to the only empty chair was a young guy barely 15. The appearance didn’t arouse my confidence in his hair cutting skills. In jest, I asked him, " Kya Chhotu, pehle kabhi kisiske baal kaate hain?"

"Kya baat karte ho sahib! Aap ke sar pe baal hain usse zyaada logon ke baal kaate hain". Taken aback, I checked my hairline in the mirror. I knew that my hairline had started receding, but had baldness set in overnight? Checking twice, I assumed it to be a gross exaggeration. Still apprehensive, I took a seat, just because all other barbers looked busy, and I had waited long enough. "I need not worry until he takes the scissors in his hands", I thought. Instantaneously, I realised how wrong I was.

The barber now draped me in a white apron and tied it behind my neck so tight, that it began choking me. Unable to speak, I pointed towards it vigorously, but the fellow did not notice. Somehow I managed to loosen the apron using my finger. It was now that he noticed me and said, " Zyaada tight tha to bolna chahiye na sahib", and loosened the knot. Now it was so loose, that falling hair would go into my clothes. Given the choice between breathing and avoiding pricking hair, I chose the former, and didn’t comment. I was going to have a bath anyways. "Baal jyaada lambe ho gaye hain, chhote kar dena", I said.

Then the barber picked up a comb. Seems harmless doesn’t it? But in his hand, it was no less than a weapon. He tried to run the comb through my dry hair, (forgetting the basic tenet of barber-ism, wet the hair first), pulling it nicely until some of my hair decided to depart from the scalp. This reminded him, and he sprayed water on my head, drenching it completely. Now the comb would run smoothly. But the barber continued to run the comb well after my head, scratching my neck in the process.

Not too bothered by these little irritations, I kept quiet. He now picked the scissors. I shuddered, but controlled myself. Things didn’t seem to be going to bad until he came to the edges or my hairlines. Trying to trim the edges, he poked my skin with the scissor. I flinched. To add insult to injury, the barber said, " Itna hiliye mat sahib, hiloge to lag jaaega". Not wanting to use the choicest expletives in a place where people knew me, I kept quiet. The poking continued, (It seems the barber was enjoying it) as I struggled to keep myself still. (I didn’t want to give him an easy excuse to hurt me more).

He picked the razor, and cut me in a few places, commenting every time, "Aap hilte bahut hain sahib". As if the pain wasn’t enough, he would rub every cut with a piece of alum, causing a sharp burning sensation in the cuts. I decided to close my eyes throughout the rest of the process.

"Ho gaya sahib!" said he. Music to my ears! I opened my eyes. Oh horror of horrors! My hair had been made mincemeat of. It seemed like someone had let loose a goat in my hair, and it had eaten away patches of it. Most of it was so short, that it stood on its end. Angrily, I asked the barber what he had done. Very innocently he replied, "Aap hi to kahe the, chhote kar dena". I regretted my choice of words.

"From that day I decided, come what may I’ll not cut my hair." I told my friend, "And wipe that grin on your face!! What happened was by no means funny." Controlling his laughter my friend replied, "Well, It wouldn’t sound funny to me as well, if I were you!"

(Other than the phony tale...er pony tail, the rest of the incidents are based on real life incidents in my life, albeit at different instances at barbershops)

he he.. and every time I go for an eyebrow threading done (u guys are lucky u don't have to do it), the lady ends up asking me, "lagi to nahi". Naah, badaa mazaa aa raha hai, aap rukna matt..... he he.

(forgetting the basic tenet of barber-ism

nice line dude...

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