Saturday, March 15, 2008

The new barber

Boys and Girls, this is a true story. You may not know (i hope), that I have changed my barber in the last eight months. I used to go to one guy, now I go to another...lets leave it at that. Well, the new barber, whose shop is a little farther away from the home, is a very talkative, prying little chap who thinks he's as suave and smooth as Georger Clooney in the Ocean's 11. Every time I visit his 'saloon' for a trim, I usually have to wait a few minutes for my turn at the blades. In this waiting time, I hear some of the most intimate, personal and troubling information pass between the client and this barber. It never ceases to astound me that men, grown men with kids of their own, spill their heart out to this, this...barber. I may not be the most sociable of people, but surely there must be some limit to the sharing of personal information! How many of you go about discussing the intimate details of your life with your barber? I bet, very few. That kind of information is normally shared with family, friends and the occassional lamp post, when you're staggering home after a few rounds at the pub.
Yet, everytime I wait for my turn at the blades, I overhear all this information, and if you thought this post is weird now, it only gets weirder after this, I promise you. The third or so time that I visited this saloon, I was greeted like a returning customer, with a smile, a wave and that greasy little pretention of familiarity that you could expect from this barber. I thought to myself that he has probably identified me as a returning client and will no doubt, now try to extricate some personal information from me whilst he wields the blades. With this troubling thought bouncing around the insides of my head, I took the seat, and settled in for a haircut, that would likely be much much more than just a haircut.
The events that followed, however unlikely and fictitious they may seem, are the complete truth, so help me god. The barber, while covering the front of my torso with a huge and brightly patterned bib, started to speak to me. He went, "Aur kaise ho Shetty Saab! Bhabhi aur bachhe kaise hai! Pitaji aaj kal walking ke liye nahi jaate hai kya? ". Translated it reads "How are you Shetty Sir! How's the missus and the kids! Don't see your dad these days, has he stopped his walks?". Now, to put the record straight, my name is not Shetty, I am very surely single, and equally certain that I have not fathered any children. After the barber so casually made such frightful allegations, I had no other choice but to deny them, and deny them vehemently. Which proved ineffectual. The man positively did not listen! He could not be convinced. I'm a relatively big built person, and am a little more aggressive than I need to be at times, but no amount of threats, cajoling or outright screaming would convince the idiot that I am not who he thinks I am. What would you do in such a situation? Do you storm out of there, with one half of your head trimmed, and the other half like a birds nest? or do you calm down, and play the game till you get a decent trim and can prevent any public embarrasment?
I chose the latter route. I surrendered to the situation, and to the immense stubbornness of the idiot who was wielding a sharp blade in the vicinity of my neck, ears and facial area. Yeah, I said to him. The wife's fine, she's spending a lot of money shopping. The kids are very energetic and dont sleep untill 2 AM. My dad doesnt walk in the evenings because of the pollution and prefers his early morning walk. To this, the idiot grins and nods and interjects occassionally with an ummm or an ahhhh or achaa.
Last weekend I visited this saloon again. I am now a part of the inner circle, as far as the coterie of familiar clients and the barber are concerned. I have long conversations with the barber about how my dad had to wear the neck brace for his spondilitis and how my pet labrador is sufferring in the heat of the city. He recommends the herbal oil massage therapy for my dad's aches, while instructing me to use only the herbal hair oil that he sells on my children's scalps. I play my role to perfection everytime, and am a little scared that I am so good at it. In facy, very soon he expects me to get my son in for a haircut. Wait a minute....I dont have a son, do I! Ah! will have to get him transferred into the boarding school out of town.....the wife will be devastated, but children need to be disciplined.