The ritual of getting a haircut | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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The ritual of getting a haircut

'Don't ask the barber if you need a haircut' wrote Warren Buffet, the legendary investor, I recalled as I went to the barber to get my remaining hair trimmed. There is something unique to the little friendly neighbourhood barber shops that has withstood the onslaught of modern plush salons; Writes Rakesh Pandey.

chandigarh Updated: May 02, 2014 09:31 IST
Rakesh Pandey

'Don't ask the barber if you need a haircut' wrote Warren Buffet, the legendary investor, I recalled as I went to the barber to get my remaining hair trimmed. There is something unique to the little friendly neighbourhood barber shops that has withstood the onslaught of modern plush salons; these shops survive because they are ubiquitous and offer quick and cheap service and because these barbers have built a personal relationship with the clientele.


I remember in the 80s when I was a kid it used to be a Sunday ritual where you had to wait in a queue to get your turn unless you were an early riser. These days, barber shops have mushroomed everywhere.

One thing unique to these shops is that you are sure to hear the loud music being played or some Bollywood film being played at full volume. I got scolded if I played loud music when I was a teenager and the usual question asked was, 'Is this home or a barber shop'?

Once I was enticed by a smooth-talking barber, who had little business at that time, into getting a facial done. On another occasion, Golu, my current hair artist, commented on my receding hairline and thinning mop, and I simply put the blame on the hard water of Patiala.

The time when you are getting a haircut could be used to indulge in small talk, catch on the grapevine or even do meditation. I stare into the oblivion as thoughts flash by. Sometimes I observe school kids who insist on their hair being cut in a certain style.

Once I was getting a haircut and the tea arrived; the person getting a haircut on the next chair was a student of history. He talked about how the tea was discovered in China when some tea leaves accidentally fell in a pot of boiling water.

When the time came for the most dreaded thing -- taking your kid to get a haircut for the first time -- my wife asked me to do the job. Life had turned full circle as I remembered my dad taking me to the barber shop when I was a kid.

I resigned to my fate and took my son, Devansh, to a barber shop. Like an animal about to be slaughtered, Devansh got a whiff of the impending disaster and raised hell. The barber refused to do the job.

I took him to another where he got through the ordeal with heart-rending cries amid my promises to give him candies. I finally found a new barber who had a way with the kids. Life became a little easier; now, that he's six he has come to enjoy these trips and insists it to be topped up with fun under a shower.