Getting your hair cut isn't as easy as it seems to be.Especially after an upbringing in a pious and sometimes superstitious background where everything has to have a pre-defined time and place.Haircut is prohibited on Tuesdays,Thursdays and Saturdays.I don't know about Saturday,but I don't want to take chances.The problem being complicated by the fact that in hostel daily life it's pretty uncommon that you remember what day of the week it is.
I wake up every day and realise that my hair has grown so long that it's becoming difficult to see things with it falling into the eyes.I make up my mind to have a hair cut and tell my friends about it.They immediately reply,"Not today mate,it's a Thursday".After weeks and weeks of postponement due to lack of auspiciuos days,one day suddenly everything falls into place.The stars,the moons and most importantly the calendar have the right look about it.It's a Friday and I remember that I need a haircut.Going to the saloon 2kms away on foot is the easier part.
Now I'm not the adventurous and experimental type when it comes to hair.The only reason that my hair grows long is that I don't find time to go to the barber.Long hair with bandana and hair gel may look 'cool' and trendy but I stay away.I was relieved to know that I'm not the only one who thinks so.My friend Neeraj whom I meet every summer when he comes back from Singapore (he studies at NUS) tells me that he lets his hair grow long just becuase the barbers back in Sgp charge way too much and the first thing he does after coming back to Jamshedpur is rush to get the good old 10/- cut.Now that he has gone to Philly on a one year exchange program,I expect him to come back with longer hair than most traditional Indian women (although the definitions for this term are changing pretty fast).
And about shaving your own hair,well I'm not that brave enough either.I adore Ronaldo and even got a jersey with his name on the back,but the admiration stops with football.
I enter the saloon and as always it's full.No matter what time of the day,what day of the week,what week of the year I've entered into a saloon,I've never found it empty.There are always enough people who have to get a haircut,shave or maasage.But every saloon follows a common code for waiting customers.They provide them with reading material.The fashionable ones have the latest magazines and newspapers kept neatly while the ones I visit back home have outdated newspapers which may be well be used that very instant to gather the hair waste.That's service for you.That's why the rates here are 3 times that of my city.The news lag is compensated though by the overzealous barber who talks of everything from the present form of Indian cricketers,the present state of Government in Sudan or Belarus,the regular movie chit-chat and some alarmingly irregular ones to the ill health of the buffalo of his milkman.And that's way more entertaining than reading stuff.
I am called when a chair falls empty.It's strange but a vague sense of achievement takes over.I look at the other people waiting and make a face that could read,'Look who's the chosen one'(refer Seinfeld to see what I mean).I sit down on the elevated chair.I glance here and there and my eyes fall upon the regualr haircut chart where they have the snapshots of all possible haircuts in all possible colours hanging on the wall.That does not confuse me though.I feel that colored hair is good for feathered birds,who need it to attract mates.I'm not sure if that works well with human beings too,but I'm too boring to find that out.So I go for the regular 'medium' cut,whatever that means.I used to be a 'short' kind of guy earlier but I ditched that style after being the butt of many a jokes during schooldays.
The white sheet is wrapped around me.Symbolic of the death of long hair maybe.The snip-snip of the scissors begins to take over with frequent instructions from the barber to tilt my head in sometimes impossible angles.I am left to myself here,for the barber is the quiet type,typical of a big city man.There is no spontaneous bondage that two unknown people strike when they meet in smaller cities.My mind wanders and tries to figure out what people think when the barber is cutting their hair.The regular things they always think about or does the change in setting carry the thought train in a totally different direction? As I'm thinking,a few more instructions are given and I oblige unknowingly.I don't know what I'm thinking,or maybe I'm thinking everything I just wrote.
It's never too long before the thing gets over.Time passes like it always does.It stops sometimes if the weather is hot and there is no power and you are sweating like a melting snowcap underneath the white sheet,but that's rare.The white sheet comes off soon enough and I'm left with the tiny remains of my beloved hair on my clothes.And an immediate urge to have a bath and to dust of that vile cheap smelling powder.The baber asks just to make sure,'Anything else..shaving,massage?'.My puzzled and bemused look gives the answer.Who gets a massage in a barber shop? I pay and I leave.To walk that 2km again,this time with prickly and itchy hair all round my body.
Carefree for another 3 months or the time when the hair grows long enough to poke me in the eye.Whatever comes first.
Footnote:For all those kind friends who visit this blog and the kinder ones still who remind me to update as they want to read more of me,I'm sorry to say that things won't be the same this week.So before sending me an IM think of your poor friend who is hanging on the edge and seriously needs time to study to pass his courses.The regular me willl be back after a week.Respite for most,disappointment for some,mostly me.So long and thanks for all the wish(es).
Before I go,if you've seen the Jon Stewart classic on Crossfire,this is what Jon had said when pressurised to act like he does on his show(Daily Show)-"No,I'm not gonna be your monkey".But I'm too nice to say that.You must have got the message though.And remember this a joke,and every joke is an exaggeration,so don't feel bad and shun this humble friend of yours.