08
Sep
10

Barabar barber

FYI: ‘Barabar’ is a Hindi word, when translated literally in English means ‘Correct’. I just confirmed that with my colleague, and YES, we have less work in the office nowadays.

This post is for the guys who have gone through the dilemma of finding a trustworthy barber outside of our small state.

While in hostel days in Dehradun, we used to have an in-campus barber who was old, bitter and grumpy. Considering the fact that he had a steady job, one would expect him to be a bit more chirpy. Haircut-Inspections were something that occurred frequently. So on the eve of one such, there would be a long line outside his small shop while he (Yes, there was just one barber for the 250-odd inhabitants of the campus!) hurriedly ran the electric cutter from “tukhum-to-tukhum” (tukhum:Backside of the skull!), snipped a bit on the top and front, shove you off the chair and call out ‘neeekksshhtt’!

His haircuts were as horrible as the experience of having him wrap you with cloth, supposedly to prevent hair from getting on your clothes, when it was already full of the previous guy’s hair and what-not. One could feel them pricking on the skin as he tightens it around the neck, slowly scraping the throat with the tingly feeling of uneasiness. It reminds me of one Uncle who took great pleasure in torturing kids at Family gettogethers by rubbing his Five o’clock shadow on their cheeks! (How I hated that then, but now I AM that uncle!)

By the time I reached my last few semesters however, I had enough courage and knowledge of Hindi to jump the campus wall and take a haircut the way I’d wanted it, from a local barber whom I slowly came to trust. I would always come back from My Barber’s Shop all rejuvenated and relieved, as if I’d taken a week long vacation. Those were one of the highlights of my Hostel-memories.

Now, coming back to the present, there were these 3 barbers, whom I assumed were brothers cos’ they looked extremely alike and collectively owned the shop. They have been my MY Barbers for almost 4 years now. Their shop would always have Africans, Middle-East or South-East Asians hanging out. They were friendly people and more than that, they gave good haircuts. Since they interacted with different cultures, they know what we want and they actually listen. And to top it off, they were from a different state, which meant that they were non-locals and that we have more in common.

I’ve had bad experiences (apart from the hostel scenario) with barbers, they were the reason I had grown my hair for months, TWICE, just cos’ I didn’t want to take a haircut outside Mizoram. But these guys restored my then wavering faith in non-mizo Barbers. (Racism has nothing to do with a good haircut!) Everytime I’ve been to their shop in the past few years (Except one time when I grew my hair really long cos I was balding and worried, but then gave up!), no matter how long the gap between each visit, they always remembered the last time I took a haircut from them. I always leave their shop a happy man.

I once paid more than Rs.100/- for a haircut when I visited a unisex Hair Salon in a posh area. It was late in the evening and I desperately needed a trim then. The shop was very elegant, the barber well-dressed and the equipments were state-of-the-art. But all that was worth less than the amount I paid, cos’ the man simply had no skills. Call it loyalty to what I know, but I paid the man, left and never again laid my good eye on the shop (The other eye is just incorrigible).

I recently went to take a haircut from My Barbers, but was greeted by their absence. (I’d stopped by a few days earlier but since they were not there and the young guy in their stead looked a little bit too young for an experienced barber, I had decided to come again a few days later.) It seems that they had left the shop for their home-town in search of greener pastures. The young man managed to convince me to sit on his chair while he carefully wrapped the synthetic cloth around my chest. He talked about how, back in Kuwait, (Bullshit! I thought!) he used to cut Filipino hair and he knows exactly what we want.. etc etc.

He leaned a little towards the gay-side, which I thought was a bit reassuring. (Sexism has nothing to do with a good haircut!) He talked a lot and said something about how my hair is like this and others are like that… I wasn’t really listening cos’ I was concentrating too hard on the mirror in front to make sure he doesn’t do something dramatic with my hair. When it was all said and done, I briefly looked in the mirror, paid him (Rs.30/- to be exact. I remember when they used to be Rs.5/- back home) and hurried home.

WHY?

If you’re a guy, you would know that unless you wash the excess hair off your head after a haircut, you wouldn’t be able to see what it REALLY looks like.

After I had my bath, I quickly looked in the mirror, then stopped looking and slowly started admiring, “Not a bad job” I thought to myself. It seems My Barbers had left me with a worthy replacement indeed, but they will never be forgotten. They were them who restored my faith, my dignity and my close crop hair. (Although with some male pattern baldness now.)


9 Responses to “Barabar barber”


  1. September 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    completely agree…a barber you can trust is *much important. for a few years now i just get the whole thing shorn off, and it has been a lot easier. skinheads know *something…

  2. 2 ruolngulworld
    September 10, 2010 at 5:54 am

    wish i had the courage to just shave it all off. what with it almost half gone anyway, it would save a lot of bother. and probably no one would even notice.
    coincidentally, i had my hair cut just a week back. went to this barbershop near office where all my colleagues have been going because its the cheapest in the whole of tokyo. it was quite a different experience, my first. you enter the shop and there’s a machine (like an atm) where you put in the amount in one slot and then your ‘ticket’ comes out another slot. then you wait in line with the ticket in hand. there were two guys ahead of me, waiting. and two already being attended to by two barbers.
    one of the barbers was a middle-aged guy with a mohawk-type of hairstyle while the other was a girl or, rather a middle-aged, woman. i was hoping to get the mohawk-guy because he looked rather cool and seemed to know what he was doing. but i ended up with the lady. she only took about 10 minutes but i was rather quite pleased with the result, considering that we never really discussed what type of cut it was going to be this time🙂 not that she didn’t ask what type of cut i wanted. at least that’s what i presume she said as i sat down:) but since i don’t speak japanese and she didn’t speak english, she just nodded and went ahead. apart from the good haircut, i really liked the vacuum cleaner thing they used to suck off all extra pieces of hair. really much more efficient than the powdering and dusting off with some brush usually done in india.
    the whole thing costed me 1050 yen which, as i said, is the cheapest haircut you can get in tokyo. that’s roughly rs. 550. but considering that just one medium sized potato costs the equivalence of rs. 35, i suppose you could call it a cheap haircut🙂

  3. 3 luliana
    September 10, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Guwahati-ah khan kal bikna ka nei. Bihari ania, kum 20 a tlin pawh ka ring chiah lo. A tirah chuan a met nalh lo thei rap, mahse final year ka thlen meuh chuan duhthusam a ni thuak tawh. Tlai khat ka va kal chu amah aiah putar deuh pakhat hi a lo awm a, kan zawh chian chuan, “Bihar-ah a haw. Haircut i duh em ni?” a tia. Kei chuan, “Duh love”, tih pahin ka leh hawi a, ka kal nal nal…😛

  4. 4 blinddayze
    September 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    super post!!!

    “I’ve had bad experiences (apart from the hostel scenario) with barbers, they were the reason I had grown my hair for months” …. this is exactly my reason too😀 … in my case still long and it’s been 3yrs.. if for some reason i become a celeb [in aijal] i dream of featuring in a shampoo ad :P…

    hope YOUR NEW BARBER continues to give good cuts…

  5. October 2, 2010 at 3:35 am

    If i am not mistaken,i think “barabar” is used for something similar or a substitute of something.
    like:”yeh uske barabar hai.” I don’t think it means correct!!

  6. October 8, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Ka nawr kawlh top dawn a nih loh chuan Vai ho hi ka meh tir duh tawhlo… Mizo met thiam hi an lo awm ve leh mai zel..

  7. 7 Van
    December 7, 2010 at 2:44 am

    I saw the word “tukhum” and I went “Whoa!! This guy was a Mizo all along! :o” (I read only two of your posts – the other one a few years ago. That was when you commented on my blog.)

    Anyway I had the same barber experiences during my school days. I went to an army school with an armyman barber who gave army haircuts – short on the front, longer on the tukhum and none at all just behind/above the ears. Now I just shave off my hair every few weeks🙂

  8. 8 NotGood
    January 22, 2011 at 1:07 am

    @Everyone: Sorry haven’t been active lately.. but will be making new posts very soon.

    @Baruk: Not going the skinhead-way till I lose half my scalp (Im almost there tho’) hehe

    @Ruolngo: Japs are the epitome of fashion, so even though you get your hair cut from a local guy charging a few bucks to a more posh-area guy charging a few hundreds, you are still better off man.

    @Luliana: Tuna i hair-shave kha I inhmeh deuh ber ka ti..

    @Blind: Yup… its either grow till you get back home, or a clean shave.. tried both with varying results…

    @Clio: Barabar can mean a couple of things, or so I found out from the internet.. http://dict.hinkhoj.com/shabdkosh.php?word=%E0%A4%AC%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AC%E0%A4%B0
    Thanks for visiting tho’ come again.

    @Ale: Kan khaw lamah chuan mizo met thiam hi an vang viau… mahse a khat tawkin tuai an rawn kal thin, mahse hmeichhe sam chiah an met duh a, buaithlak phian..

    @Van: Ill shave when my hair covers less than 50% of my head, probably in the near future, but until then, I’m covering as much bald patch as I can with long hair..

  9. April 26, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    haha..dis post echoes my sentiments perfectly..all my initial years in delhi was spent lookg for a good barber wid me getting a new hairstyle wid every visit to the saloon…would u believe it, i actually grew my hair for some time in frustration…until i discovered a mallu barber in the bylanes of dirty munirka…:)i became his brand ambasador in jnu..lol


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