This week I went for a haircut. Now, my hair is one of the few things that I am fussy about, and I usually go to a well-known overcharging leech of a salon even if it’s just for a trim. So, as I sat there, lost under the oversized bib around me, surrendering myself to the expert hands of the stylist, I couldn’t help noticing the changing dynamics of the high end salon culture.
I looked around at the other customers, and except for a middle-aged lady with very chic hair, there were three men and a kid. The men were more vociferous in their demands: explaining in detail the precise length they wanted, the shape of the sideburn or the extent of the fringe. The metrosexual man has arrived and how!
But what took me by surprise was the kid: barely three years old, doll-cute and completely comfortable in her perched up seat, patiently sitting through the 30-minute process, almost enjoying herself, as her mom fussed over her, instructing the hairdresser. I mean she is three! Give her a break.
I remember my childhood days, when my mom would take me to the local “hair cutting saloon” (and not even a parlour), where all the men in the neighbourhood used to gather for their chai, sutta and haircut. The 60-year old no-nonsense uncle would make me sit on the highest stool, wrap a dirty towel around me, put a bowl on top of my head (I kid you not) and run his scissors around it. No fancy headbath, no fancy clips holding up my curls, no fancy multi-purpose scissors and definitely no fancy hair dryers. 10 minutes later, I would come out looking like a kid straight out of “Paranormal Activity”. While I would cringe slightly, but too scared to revolt, my mom would look at me with great satisfaction and say, “don’t you feel comfortable? No more lice for a month at least” and I would nod, looking dismally at the girls of my age who had shiny stylish hair.
But over the years, as I have graduated to the branded chains, what stays with me is the memory of the old uncle hoisting me over the chair, asking me if I liked my school and offering me a biscuit after committing hara kiri with my hair.
For everything that my parents have done for me, the no-frills upbringing was perhaps the best gift…