Grooming Starts in a Barber's Shop

January 11, 2010
Suresh Naig

Yes. Grooming starts in a barber's shop literally and metaphorically too. This morning I sat on a barber's chair; the rhythmic movement of his soft fingers on my head coupled with the tingling sensation of mentholated oil forced my eyes to close and I was enjoying the delirium sans narcotics. The TV up on a corner was playing a Music channel watched by none other than the barbers and the small table in front of the sofa was strewn with glossy magazines with flashy girls on the cover page.

The glass door of the hair salon was opened and a young boy stepped in, accompanied by his father. The boy was around 10 years of age, looking pretty with overgrown locks, curly and lustrous. The father instructed the barber to crop it short, and the young boy grimaced.

The father shouted, 'you don't know. Just keep quiet and he will do a nice job' and left the beauty salon leaving the boy fuming.

I felt that certain things have not changed over years. The father and son duo had triggered my grey cells and I vividly recollected my boyhood days in the barber's shop. Whenever I return from the barber's shop after a haircut, however short was the cut, it was difficult for me to satisfy my father. He always admonished me by saying that the cut was not short enough. Out of disgust, once I got my head clean shaved which forced my father to throw tantrums, for we were not allowed to shave our head completely, other than for religious vows. Later I learnt the reason for his tantrums, which was nothing but a reverse cause and effect fear. Sons would tonsure their heads only when the father dies and now that I have tonsured my head the fear of reverse effect had gripped him, resulting in his tantrums. However my innocuous act never impacted his longevity.

As a boy, certain things I had resolved and one among them was not to interfere in the hair cut of my children. However, I never expected such positive accruals out of a silly resolution. I used to drop my son in a barber's shop and instruct the barber to give a hair cut as desired my son, ignoring the surprised look of the barber. I had even encouraged my son to pay the charges of the barber from the cash I had given him. This had inculcated a sense of responsibility in him, that he had developed a sense of right and wrong spending, from an early age 10years.

His grooming had started literally from the barber's shop and he had learnt by trial and error. He had learnt to take decisions; short, medium or close crop and the resultant impact of comments from his peers. When mocked at for a lousy hair cut from his peers he never had an easy way out, blaming the elders of the household, but to own up his decisions. Having learnt from a very young age on what is decision making and how to own up decisions; he had matured into a man with fine virtues. He is respected in the large family of several cousins for his insight and judgment.

When I credit the barber's shop for my son's grooming, many consider it as humor and never realize the sense behind it.

A marketing professional, yet believes in talking only the truth. An optimistic maverick remains a puzzle, puzzling others.
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