There is more to meat row than just your food menu.
Even as dozens of eateries serving non-vegetarian cuisine in Lucknow bylanes wait for the meat crisis to end, the concern in one such ‘kanghi (comb) wali gali’ is deep rooted.
Engaged in making and selling traditional buffalo horn combs for generations, Mohammed Issaq Khan, the lone flag-bearers of the trade feels the crackdown on slaughter houses will act as a last nail in the coffin to their trade.
“Ours is the only shop left in the lane that is famous for these buffalo horn combs. So far the business was good as I used to sell at least 15 to 20 combs a day. And each comb that includes both hair comb and head lice comb that are purely handmade comes at a cost of Rs 30 to 50 each,” says Khan, who owns the lone comb shop left in ‘kanghi wali gali’ in Old City’s Nakkhas area.
“With slaughterhouse being shut, getting horns would be next to impossible,” he says while revealing that already handmade combs are now outsourced from Moradabad.
“There was the time when Lucknow used to be the leader in the horn combs business so much so that this particular stretched was named as ‘kanghi wali gali’,” says Khan whose family is into the business since the Nawabi era.
He says the combs are prepared after drying the buffalo horn in open and then cut into blocks by a fine saw.
“Later it is heated and compressed using a special compressor generally used in loco engines. Once compressed, the teeth are made manually using superfine saw that is made by grinding regular saw. It leaves superfine teeth and then comes the buffing part that is done using coal and rug,” says Khan whose family was famous for making finest horn combs.
“So fine so that a full blow of air could give a quiver to the comb’s teeth. It used to be the only way to check the fine work on the comb,” he says while claiming that these combs used to be the preferred choice of the royals, also because of some medicinal qualities inn it. “They were known to make hair roots strong and more firm,” he says.
Buffalo horn comb manufacturing business witness a decline in late 1950’s after the advent of plastic products in India. “Since plastic products were cheaper, the consumption of the buffalo horn combs witnessed a sudden decline so much so that it has reduced the number of shops to one and that is mine,” he adds.