I recently, at my own expense, learnt that it pays to look good. So I thought I should do something about it. As most of you might now, I have the genetic gift of hair. It grows at a rapid pace albeit in a haphazard, aimless sort of way. Just like Rahul Gandhi's political career.
So, I walked into a salon which I shall refrain from naming (its name begins with the letter 'e' and the second part of its name also describes someone with a lot of money). Now, for someone who has never paid more than fifty rupees for a haircut, such places can be quite intimidating.
First impression of the place - all the
barbers 'hair stylists' themselves had a variety of hairdos. My friendly neighbourhood barber Yadavji had hair. That's it. Here, everyone had pointed, spiky hair. So sharp and pointed one could cut some strands, make a spikestrip out of them which the police could lay down on the roads to stop criminals and speeding cars.
Confused, I walked up to the counter and said, "I need a haircut." Looking at the lady's expression, it was quite a stupid thing to say. I doubt they had people walk up to them asking for the latest iPhone (nobody does that, it sucks).
I was given a printed slip and shown to my seat. I looked around; the place was filled with Punjabi women. I felt like I was in a Dibakar Banerjee film. How did I know they were Punjabi? Well they had big...bags, purses, clutches etc. Of makeup. What did you think, you dirty person?
And in this salon frequented by Punjabi women, the women were extremely demanding (Get me a magazine, I want cold water, chicken tandoori kahaan hai bh******)! Amidst all the pandemonium, a thin man (spike number 4 on the spikestrip) walked up to me. He ran his hands through my hair and said, "Sir, we will have to wash your hair first." I thought, 'Wow, they've got nice service. No wonder people come here so often.'
He took me to a reclining seat and asked me to lean back so that my head went into a washbasin. This was the first time the back of my head was able to appreciate the ceramic masterpiece that was the basin.
I felt like I was in a shampoo commercial. The tap was put on, and the temperature was just right - warm and heavenly. Shampoo was applied on the hair, a smooth lather was worked up and the ablutions began. Ah, this was the good life.
Five minutes later, I was asked to get up and go back to my allotted chair. I walked with a swagger Cleopatra would've been proud of and asked, "Will this cost extra?"
Yes. A whopping 150 rupees more for essentially a palm's worth of liquid. This just wouldn't do. I interrogated, "What shampoo did you use?" A random French sounding name was uttered. Damn, if I'd known, I'd have shampooed my hair and come to the salon. But that's not the south Indian way to do things. Once you take a bath, your day has begun. It is a cardinal sin to take a bath and then go to the barbershop. And you don't just shampoo your hair in the basin. No sir!
Spike no 4 began cutting my hair. I asked him in jest, "First you apply a ludicrously expensive shampoo. Then you cut my hair. I think it should be the other way round." Number 4 smiled at me and continued on. Joke wasn't funny enough. Half an hour later, I got up. It was amazing; I was rendered speechless. The salon hadn't made even an inch of a difference to my hair. It still looked as if Yadavji had cut it.
I was swiftly handed the bill, along with a visiting card and some toffees. Damages? 450 rupees (300 for the haircut, 150 for the French shampoo). I dug deep into my pockets and found that I didn't have enough money. So I handed them a credit card. For a haircut. This was new.
I went home and showed my mother the credit card bill. She had a good laugh. Well, at least something good came of it. Yadavji, I'm coming back.