Monday, May 29, 2006

What Happens When You Get Your Haircut In a 'Unisex' Salon

Image courtesy Wikipedia commons 

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By Gaurav Parab

This weekend I decided to have a haircut at one of the glitzy Salon places that have recently popped up all over town. The name of the place was Haircut** (**Name changed, because I cannot spell or pronounce it).

So I went. All my life, I have never ever spent more that 20 bucks on a haircut and truth be told, going to a fancy place like this one was a completely new experience for me. Just like having ice cream for the first time, or like using ice cream as an example to say something else for the first time. As I stood outside the place and practiced saying 'Is this the Unisex Salon?' in as gruff a voice as possible for a few minutes, I was troubled by a few questions.

What does Unisex actually mean?
Can I afford to have a haircut in this place?
Do I need to make air quotes by raising two fingers every time I say Unisex?

I went inside.

The fact that they did not display the prices was a giveaway. A place without a Price List display is either obscenely expensive or is a place where the Price List fell down or got painted over.There were no chart of sample haircuts either. If you are a child of the eighties, you know the neighborhood barber shop always has a sample chart with 20 mug shots of Anil Kapoor in all his hairy prime. The pictures show Mr. Kapoor in different stages of hair undress, taken from different angles, and you always wondered how long it took for him get his hair cut and grow it back again for the next picture.

The point I am trying to make is the sample chart is an assuring sight. Just like the middle aged man in a Baniyan who would always come in while you are having your haircut, and signal to your barber to come over and trim his hairy armpits. Returning to you, your barber would proudly brandish the same scissors and mention that he needed to be quick about this before the scissors lost the juicy essence of the arm pit man.

Anyways, with no sample chart in sight, I knew I had to decide fast. This was clearly not a place where you just sit and the barber does his thing. This seemed to be the sort of place where you explain things. You wave your hands and you drop names peppered with European references. “I want the Michael Angelo look from the Sistine Chapel era” is what the Hair Pro keratin Expert/Scientist/Artist wants to hear.

I asked for the rate list.

The Cashier looked at me surprised and repeated “Rate List?”

Everyone inside the Salon turned around. This needed tact and grace and the elegance of a man riding a silky black thoroughbred with a neatly folded handkerchief washed with Single Malt Whiskey.

“How much does a haircut cost?”

Somebody screamed, one of the hair experts pushed a shaving blade through his own skull, exotic after shave bottles came alive and crashed into each other. The conditioning got sucked out of the air conditioned room.

The cashier, now surrounded by  two armed guards, let go of a long drawn out sigh, and like a graceful Swiss banker telling a customer his bank balance, discreetly passed a small chit with the figure towards me.

Trapped, I nodded at the cashier and confidently strode towards the fancy space age chair, mentally calculating the going rate for Kidneys at the Sassoon hospital. Out of nowhere, the Barber drifted in silently like an expensive perfume. A delicate sort of guy, I knew he had to have a testosterone bottle somewhere in his pocket for the occasional sip since levels seem to go down with every passing moment.

“What do we have here?”

“Err…. Are you the barber…I mean the cutter..the..scissor man? ”

“Yes, dear, I am the Grooming expert. “What sort of treatment are we talking about?”

And so we went back and forth. Discussing the bounce of my hair, the ruffled look, the wavy feeling and all that. And then he began. Every single hair on my head got his undivided attention. To give him credit, this was clearly far more important to him than me. In his mind, this was the final hole at Augusta and he could not afford to muff his shot. The Groomer dude would delicately setup my hair through an ivory comb and then take a step back to study the wind and refer to a clipboard his Caddy held. The decision of whether that goes, or doesn’t, how much goes and how much stays were not to be taken lightly.

Two hours and a dozen hair later (Each getting a ceremonial 31 gun salute sendoff ) there was no denying that he had done a decent job of it all. BUT MY HAIR STILL NEEDED CUTTING.

No wonder, Wodehouse had once suggested that the best way to have a haircut is by using a device invented a long long time ago by a Frenchman called as Guillotine.

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Anonymous said...

You have a good style of writing..

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"The cashier let go of a silent sigh, and like a graceful Swiss banker telling a customer his bank balance, discretely passed a small chit with the figure towards me."

dude, the word is discreet. if it were discrete, the small chit would be passed in distinct minute fragments.

- s.b.

p.s.: excellent article on rediff, btw. hope the perpetrators rot in hell ... when they get there.

Pradeep said...

nice piece of writing, and yes... nice article on rediff....

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a time when my friend took a F.R.I.E.N.D.S. collectors edition book and asked the guy to cut her hair like Monica Gellar. well lets just say, it didnt turn out exactly like that and even though she went out with a heavy heart, she definitely didnt leave without a heavy pocket.

Great job like always! Wont say much to inflate the ago of your arrogant self :P