Thursday, June 29, 2017
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Everything barberic!

Everything barberic!

29 Jun 2017 | 12:26 AM

Outside an old barber shop in Sector-20 hangs a poster; the words scribbled on it with a red marker have been borrowed from the Internet, nonetheless they are interesting - ‘You can trust a barber with secrets that you can’t tell your wife.

[ + read story ]

Jasmine Singh

Outside an old barber shop in Sector-20 hangs a poster; the words scribbled on it with a red marker have been borrowed from the Internet, nonetheless they are interesting - ‘You can trust a barber with secrets that you can’t tell your wife.’ Mahesh, 54, the owner of this 31- year-old barber shop proudly declares that he is the brain behind this poster!

Even before we could ask him anything, Mahesh runs the tape backward, taking us to the woh zamaana...“Humari dukaan, dukaan nai thi, yeh adda hota tha milne julne ke liye. (Ours was not a shop, it was a place to meet and greet friends).” Mahesh remembers when his customers would wait for hours to get a haircut or for plain head massage and chit-chat with him; sharing a few laughs and a lot of stories. “But now, everything has changed,” his tape is stuck, and, despite not wanting, Mahesh has to play forward.

This seems the scenario with many other old barber shops in tricity; the new pishy-poshy unisex salons have eaten up their clientele, poached their workers, who are more than willing to work in the air-conditioned saloons. However, there are some people who still swear by the perfect ‘champi’ that their old barber would give as a top-up service along with the hair-cut!

Clear-cut choice

Barber shops were not barber shops; they were lifestyle for many, only now this lifestyle has changed. Gian Singh, one of the owners of the Prince Hair Salon in Sector-22, is ‘totally’ disheartened talking about the good old days. “The scene is pretty bad now; we don’t have any karighars these days. Most of them have joined the big saloons now,” he shares his story. Gian Singh feels he is too old to device new strategies to counter the new salons. “Our kids have also opted out of this profession; they are into their own studies, so what can we say.”

Go with the flow

The younger generation is obviously flowing with the tide; they have given the old barber shops a miss for fancy salons. And why not! Nazim Khan, who is currently working with a high-end salon in Sector-44, closed his own Popular’s Barber Shop a good three-four years back. Nazim cites ‘personal reasons’ for the shutdown. “See, the old barber shops do not pay well, as compared to the new salons. Also, at the old barber shops, one does not get clients who want to get hair smoothening, re-bonding etc. At barber shops, customers come for specific haircuts or beard trimming only.”

Still in business

This does not translate into the fact that every second barber shop in tricity has shut shop. Wasim is running his barber shop in industrial area phase 1 from the year 2003; he has of course seen a drastic dip in the clientele, “There are still customers who have been regular, coming all the way from Panchkula and Zirakpur. I am still in business because my shop is not in one of those high-flying sectors where there are good saloons.”

Sharan Mehta, Chandigarh-based dentist, swears by the barber shop in Sector 15, Chandigarh, which he has been going to when he was a kid. “I understand that my old barber shop does not offer those ‘pamper the customer’ services but as far as a hair-cut and massage is concerned, they too do a decent job of it and charge only Rs 350 for it. I got the same services for Rs 1,100 from a famous salon. Ah! The old barber uses the same old scissors, the salon-walas use the same scissors but of a good brand, and a brush to clean the hair, nice gels and all.”

jasmine@tribunemail.com

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