101

Haircut 101 – Or is it just me?

It is that time of the month. No not that! It’s time for the customary haircut.

You have so many ideas. That one list from buzzfeed which promised the hairstyles that are to be ‘in’ this year pops into your head and you have all your hopes on #3.

You are determined that this time will be different. And you make sure you go to the parlour on a week day. Why? Well that’s the day when the crowd is too thin and you can comfortably explain to the guy what you want without the fear of random people hiding smirks secretly judging you.

And if luck may have it, the place is indeed quite free and you walk in only to know that your ‘guy’ is not in that day. You get indecisive for a second as you wonder if the next guy looks trustworthy enough. Mission abort? Hell no!

All wrapped up in cloth that’s softer than a baby’s behind, you gaze into the mirror for one last time and voila! Your hair seems perfect! What sorcery is this? Perhaps, this is your look. Perhaps you should just ask for a shave and leave. Before you could make a decision, our friendly neighbourhood barber guy props up next to you with a smile, by which he means to be polite, but you cant help but get The “dark knight” flashbacks.

“So how do you want it?”, he asks checking out your hair, flicking a few ends here and there and you’re glad he isn’t making eye contact. This is it. The moment you’ve been preparing for since 5 haircuts ago. You know exactly what you want to say. You begin to explain how much is to be chucked off where, as he appears to listen intently. Good, he isn’t judgy. He doesn’t think you’re too concerned with your looks. Gee, what a nice guy. And as you get more confident and begin to pull out your phone to maybe give the poor guy some visual aid, as gods may have it, another customer walks in.

And somehow it’s never another nervous teenager, it just always is a grim old man with droopy cheeks that you just know has to be a hindi tuition master in some poor old household in the neighbourhood. You can’t show a photo to the barber now! Not at the risk of this complete stranger rolling his eyes at you for being yet another typical teenager obsessed with shaving half his head and pointing the rest of it skyward. No uncleji! I’m not mainstream!

You bite it, and go ahead anyways. Hell yeah! Look at you being all secure about yourself! And it begins. As time ticks by and strand by strand your hair is shed all around you, you begin to realise you look nothing like the picture. Ouch! He nicked it too close on the left side. Do you tell something? Or not, he’s a man trained in this art. Trust his judgement! And you slowly cook up a story in your mind to subdue the laughter when your friends take a look at this little baby. Perhaps you tell them you fell asleep? Or the tried and tested “I took my dad along”? Well, use some creativity! This is not your first time!

So hair is all done and you are distracted from your story weaving session by his voice. “Do we just trim the sideburns a little or do you wanna play around with it? Maybe a sharp wedge?”. Okay, you know your preference. But somehow as you open your mouth, the words end up saying, “Just a trim”. It’s alright. You got the haircut this time. We’ll do the sideburns next time. Baby steps.

And it’s all done. Hair is rinsed and blow dried and he hands you the comb and asks you to style it the way you want. You skim down your 20 minute ritual to just 4 strokes of the brush and hand it back to him. As you are about to make the money transfer and get the hell out of that place, he asks the dreaded question – “So how do you like it?”, with a smile so full of hope that you almost feel sorry for the guy. You put up your best happy face and let him know it’s just how you wanted. Well, the fade starts too high and went a couple notches more close to the skin than you wanted. But he doesn’t have to know that.

You hurry to leave and there he is. The grumpy old man. He looks at you and his eyes reach your hair. And there it is. He rolls his eyes and shakes his head with just a hint of a smirk.

Fight me.