Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hairy Tales

“Eh? “
“It is very koorly.”
“What is what?”
“Your hair is very koorly.”
“Hair is what?”
“Koorly koorly! Your hair is very koorly.”

Getting a haircut has never been a good time for me. Staring at the faces of 10 other people, all of them of varying degrees of boring sophistication, while waiting for my turn has never done any good for my nerves. What was happening now was not helping the matters one bit.

It must have showed on my face. For when sliding out of the chair I said, “Hey, I think I am done”, my friend interrupted.

“No it’s not done. She is just saying that your hair is very curly.”

God bless his soul. For that gave me enough strength to go through another 744 seconds of my haircut.

She was a charming old lady, probably of East European origin. But for all I knew, she could be a witch from medieval times casting a spell on me with a razor hovering near my throat. Bloody immigrants, I thought. Then I though, that would be me too. So I took it back.

And that is when I decided that I have had enough haircuts to last me for some time. Thankfully I was on the east coast then.

Let me put this on record here. I am fond of long hair. I am even fonder of clean hair. And scalp that does not itch due to heat and humidity is an absolute necessity in life. That is why, all my life while in India, I have been the butt of jokes for my millimeter long hair.

When I was a kid a well meaning friend of mine once innocently enquired about the cobbler that gave me the haircut.

Anyways, few months later, I came back to India on vacation. Now I am not the one to give unnecessary shocks to my folks, mostly because I give them some necessary ones once in a while. So I decided on getting my hair trimmed before I went home.

I enquired about a nice saloon which could take care of it and many months after the last time, I went in for a haircut. There was this hair expert whom I was referred to. My heart sank the moment I saw his face. All of them have looked sinister to me, but this one was more so.

He made me sit in the chair, appraised my head for a moment and started the conversation.

“How did you grow your hair?”
“I did nothing.”
“They are nice, you must have done something.”
“Really, I just did not get it cut.”
“Oh ok. For how long?”
“Few months, don’t remember exactly. “ I didn’t want to remember my last time.
“No problem. I think you have got your hair curled?”
“I did nothing.” Chill ran down my spine. If almost heard kurly.
“Anyways, I think you should not cut your hair.”
“Thank you. I will leave now.”
“No, don’t leave. I think you should get your hair straightened.”
I gasped for breath.

Let’s take a pause here. I had lived almost all my life in small town India. A saloon has always meant a quick haircut. A barber has always been a barber to me and not a hair expert. Get in, get it mowed, pay 5 rupees (15 now) and get out. Snap! Nice and cool. And everyone who meets you will know that you have had a haircut.

As it is, the presence of a hair expert was making me nervous. This suggestion took my breath away.

Since this place has been highly recommended and deep in my heart even I did not want to trim my hair, I steeled my resolve and decided on continue the discussion.

“How much time will it take?”
“Thirty minutes, may be forty five. It depends.”
“Ok. So you are saying that in an hour’s time I will have permanently straight hair?”
“Yes absolutely. All the big actors have it done. Even John Abraham has it done. “ He counted a few more such names that I don’t remember now.
“How much does it cost?” Right now I was holding my breath. I had never spent more than 15 rupees in to get a haircut in India.
“It will take between 2 and 3 thousands now and about 1500 or so for touch ups every 6 months. It again depends. We will analyze your hair, create a hair profile and then compare with your face and then we can decide.” With this he threw in some technical jargon, which probably he only knew.

The shock at the initial cost was overwhelmed by the shock of the prospect of going through this again.

“Touch ups? But you said it was permanent.”
“Yes, it is. It is permanent for six months.”

That day I went back and looked into the dictionary. Permanent still meant permanent.

“I think I will get a simple trimming.”
“But a straight long hair will look good on you." By this time he was touching my face and trying to arrange my hair in a way which he thought would look when it is straight. At least I like to think that is what he was trying to do.

I was about at the end of the tether.

“I think I need to think about it. I will come again later." I was stealthily moving out of the chair.
“It’s ok; you can get a simple trim that too will work.” He said. He seemed to be having a slow business that day.

I slid back into the chair. He started wetting my hair.

“What do you do?” He started the conversation again.
“I work for a software firm.” More than this, I have never been able to explain to anyone.
“Yours is such a glamorous job. Many of your colleagues get such exclusive styling done here. We have so many customers from your industry. I really think you should get the hair straightened.”
“Please keep your trap shut and get over it already.” That is what I wanted to say, but by this time he had his scissors ready. And common sense stopped me. All I did was mumble.

“All the big actors have curly hair, but they get it straightened. Yours is such a glamorous job. You should have got it done. It’s permanent.”
“Hmm. I think even your profession is so glamorous. How much more time will it take?”

And so the ordeal lasted for about 1432 seconds. At the end of it I was lighter by 150 rupees and was not lighter by any perceptible amount of hair. No one would know that I have had a haircut.

And sure enough next evening when I met my dad, first thing he enquired about was the duration since I have seen a barber. I deftly escaped answering this. But early next morning dad asked me to get something from the market and get a haircut on my way back.

So there I was back at my childhood barber shop. A brisk hair cut in 10 minute, including the waiting time. Only the rate was up from last time. I had to pay 20 rupees now.

But that is okay, for everyone was happy.


Satya said...

Superb Koorly description of tantrum-de-barbars

namrata vilochan said...


Pratyush said...

Hey Thanks Namrata,
If my job became glamorous because a barber said so, i would have been a star in a show by now.

Rashmi Verma said...

hahaaha..hilarious!! like it

Pratyush said...

Thanks Rashmi!

Kiran Hegde said...

Koorly :)

Pratyush said...

you've see a bit of that koorly. it was fun


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