Do They Do It With Mirrors? (A Mystery Of Agatha-Christie-esque Proportions)

There are a mere handful of people who have seen me naked since I gained adulthood. Yeah, I know that’s pathetic considering I have lived the life of a debauched single guy for many years. And, it is especially so when I confess that I have included in that handful, all the barbers that I have had rendezvous with during this time. Yes, barbers, because that is one breed of ravagers who have seen me at my most vulnerable. Them, with their shifty eyes, fidgety hands and obtrusive tools, chipping away at my soul one thrust at a time, and me, perched atop their chair, tender and defenseless under a flimsy satin sheet. With naked fear in my eyes. Ripe for pillage. And the subsequent shame, ridicule and ostracism that always ensues.

Barbers. The Modern Day Barbarians.

The good old days when I would just run the lawn mower on my head myself every 5 days.

The good old days when I would just run the lawn mower on my head myself every 5 days.

The other day, the sadomasochist in me reared his ugly head again after lying dormant for months. My hair had gotten too long and anarchic and needed to be clipped, nipped and whipped into submission. Within minutes, I found myself bound and gagged (ok, so maybe not literally) to a beauty chair at a salon called Finesse (oh, the irony). The perpetrator, who introduced himself as Brijesh, may not have been in leather but was wearing earrings, which was quietly reassuring. The man looked at me and asked me how I liked it. “Well, why don’t you surprise me?” I said. He was flummoxed for this was not what he was accustomed to hearing. He was a simple man with 3 simple settings – Short, Medium and Long. Anyway, he proceeded to give me an explanation that made no sense. As my blood pressure elevated and my pulse rate shot up under my deceptive composure, Brijesh Scissorhands went about doing bad things to me neck up. After half an hour of elaborate fussing, I must say, I did look like a human being with a real address. Well, for ten minutes, anyway.

Ten minutes later, I was found weeping into my pillow at home. It was the same old story. Was I ever going to learn?

Barbers (and I am including everyone of their ilk in this generic category – from the pretentious hair stylists and experts to the unassuming neighbourhood ‘saloon’/’parlour’ boys and girls) have got to be the worst clairvoyants in the world. How else to describe someone who has absolutely no idea as to what his own creation is going to look like the very next day (or in the next ten minutes, as my most recent episode)? And that brings me to a side-bar question – Given the proclivity of ‘Haircuts’ to fail within hours, why aren’t verbs like disintegrate, dissipate, evaporate etc. used more often in their context? For example, this is how one could use them in a sentence (or three) – “Jack screamed ‘I’m the King of the World’ as he left the hair salon, but even before Rose had a chance to check out his sick style, his haircut had evaporated. Jack felt robbed, after all, he had paid 5 whole shillings for it. Eventually, none of that mattered much because within the hour, his boat sank and he was dead.”

Now, while your salon-style haircut may have the lifespan of an insect, do remember that all barbers are not equally bad. Some are worse. For example, I am wary of those who are extremely chatty. They want to know everything about you – who you are, where you live, whether you like parrots etc. I am not quite sure what their modus operandi is. I suspect all of this kind to be serial killers. You know, the ones who would keep a lock of your hair as a memento? Those. Next time I run into one of this kind, I am going to make sure I take away with me every single strand of my chopped hair. Beat that, bitch!

And then I got tired of the lawn mower....and let the hair grow.

And then I got tired of the lawn mower….and let the hair grow.

Then there is the category of barbers who have complicated conversations with you about your hair. They would make you sit on that chair and stare at you for several minutes, inspecting you like an unsculpted rock from all possible angles. Prepare for impending disaster if they start discussing your “options”, much like a brain surgeon discussing a trickily located tumor. For example, a simple question from you like – “What do you recommend?” – could yield the following answer, with some swishy moves of their stylish hands – “I am thinking we should approach this from the top – give it a longish look from the right and a slightly conventional look in the front, because, frankly, there isn’t much to go on there. Then, some heavy trimming at the back to control the bounce otherwise it will be difficult to manage all that body. And the back should be roundish, not like it is now. But if you absolutely prefer squarish, we could do that, too, but we should really, really try to avoid that. Ok?”

Say what? You lost me at – ‘there isn’t much to go on there’. For the next 30 minutes, you can think of nothing else but that giant bald spot that is to be your fate by, what, next week? And then for several nights, tossing and turning wondering what to do about it. Olive oil? Multani Mitti? Curd? Milk? Hamdard ka Badam Rogan Shirin? Aishwarya’s 5-solutions-in-1 shampoo?  And, pray, who is “WE” for goodness sake? How many alter egos do I need to tip here?

Occasionally, you will be accosted by a barber whose first reaction after fondling you for several minutes will be – “I love it –so soft! How about I style it like Johnny Depp (or worse, Harry Styles)?” When faced with such a scenario, I urge you to run, not walk out of the salon. Don’t even bother picking up your iPhone and car keys – those trifles of your life can be replaced once you are safely away.

And more still

And more still

In closing, alas, I have no golden thoughts. If you have no hair, or if Hobo is your look, rest assured that God has been kind to you. The rest deal with this eternal question every waking moment of their lives – How is it possible for plain-jane-ordinary you to look like John Abraham when you are given the 360 mirror treatment at the salon, but promptly decompose to a Mayawati the moment you step out? HOW is that possible?

Next time, I am going to take a closer look at those mirrors.

 

Comments

comments

78 thoughts on “Do They Do It With Mirrors? (A Mystery Of Agatha-Christie-esque Proportions)

  1. Amit

    The problem with my hair is that they are too thick and if I let them grow, they will be unmanageable like a rainforest.
    I was horrified with the barbers in UK. There was no concept of using a scissor there. They will pick up a machine and jump in. A barber actually cut her finger when I asked her to use a scissor. It was a truly WHAT DAFUQ moment.

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Yeah, that happened to me too when I had my first haircut in NY. And then someone told me that one has got to specifically request a scissors-cut!
      Anyway, later, I just joined the American bandwagon of keeping my hair really short (I did used to keep it that way sometime in the 90s too, so it wasn’t such a revelation). I tell you, it really is the most liberating feeling when there are no combs to deal with, no wind to heckle you, and you can just mop it up with a wet towel!

      Reply
  2. C. Suresh

    “There isn’t much (well! actually ‘anything’ should replace ‘much’) to go on there” starts at my forehead and works its way half-way down my neck – so i am in the blessed category of people who are over-charged by barbers for the hard-work they have to put in to find hair to cut :)

    Hilarious as ever, Rickie!

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Thanks, Suresh.
      See, I love all the benefits of being bald – the look, the freedom, the time and money saved not having to deal with its maintenance.
      The only thing I have a problem with is its permanence!

      Reply
  3. AlkaGurha

    You should have written a post for all those Dove and Sunsilk contests and won hands down. Frankly, you have a lovely soft locks ( in pic). And did you go to Finesse in Mega Mall? They have one branch in MGF too and a guy called Prince (with studs) does a good job.

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Hah…I am not sure about the winning part, let along winning hands down! I think my contempt with everything hair and what it takes to maintain it would have shone through!
      If anything, I think Dove and Sunsilk would have barred me for participating in the future as well. :D

      Reply
    2. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Oh, and yes, it’s the Finesse at Mega. I used to go to a Habib’s next door (at DLF Qutub Plaza) but I was told it shut down…hence my new adventure.

      Reply
  4. BhavanaDiary

    I have almost forgotten my grammar. So how can you even try and confuse me by introducing ‘chemically’ impossible verbs like that- hair evaporating indeed!

    Only time ‘I nearly become a theist’ is when I am sitting in a hair salon. I can’t call them barbar(ian)s as most of them employed are excellent looking blondes (I am sure my husband is a happy man while he is getting his hair done)
    They dont understand my language and me theirs (still in learning stage of Czech). So I explain my husband what cut I want (it is the same all the time anyway but he forgets it) and he explains it to them. So when they are working on my beautifool hair, I cannot help but pray in silence and hope that the lady has understood my husband and have ‘delivered’ as expected. (Till now they have not disappointed me!)
    Coming to seeing different kinds of shampoos and conditioners, I can say that my head gets giddy after reading their descriptions (or about magical properties) so I dont bother to explore.
    :-)

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      You should try to say – Haircut Evaporation – ten times every day. Soon, it will feel very normal to say it!
      You know what you should do? Just take a picture next time you or your husband are happy with your haircuts. Then just show it to the stylist when you come for a haircut next time. Hopefully, no verbal cues will be necessary!
      I did try it once here but it didn’t work for me, unfortunately. Showed the fellow a picture of Brad Pitt. But the fellow said – yeh toh nahi ho payega.
      Nonsanse!

      Reply
      1. BhavanaDiary

        oh! I cannot think of even one famous and beautiful actress who has my kind of hair. Mine is like a forest and terribly wavy!
        So I will stick to my methods ask my husband to be my parrot :-p

        Reply
  5. janu

    That’s some hair raising experiences….thankfully, am not soooo fussy about my locks…or so I think.

    Reply
  6. Madhurima

    a very sensitive topic i must say, Rickie! i was petrified to discover that my “hair stylist” (ahem…*rolls her eyes and smiles*) uses a special pair of scissors to thin my hair!! apparently most hair dressers in singapore believe that thinning the hair in this perpetually-rain-struck humid country reduces the chances of spoiling it!!

    :)

    Reply
  7. Ruchira

    ever tried writing for one of those contests of shampoos and such .. you cld win hands down ! I hate my hair long .. and chop it off unceremoniously every few weeks :P

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      You know, if only I had eyes at the back of my head, I would never have another human touch my hair! I must say, you look very prim in your pictures so whoever chops off your hair unceremoniously is doing a great job!
      As for contests, I think my contempt for hair and its upkeep will come shining through in my writing….and the folks at Indiblogger might just hand me a lifetime ban from participating altogether!

      Reply
  8. phoenixritu

    When I was a fukra (undergraduate days) I actually got a haircut from a barber under a shady tree in Delhi Univ. He charged 15 paisa for a haircut (without mirror) and 25 paisa for haircut(with mirror). I paid 15 paisa got hair cut and came back impressed by his business model!

    Reply
      1. phoenixritu

        I wish I had! My friends were shocked at this, for a bit, but then they knew me *shrug*
        The hair cut was pretty okay, I must say

        Reply
  9. Rainbow Hues

    That’s one hair raising experience. I have never been happy with my hair ever and have always wanted long luscious hair like the ones in shampoo ads and in the pursuit had them raped by various hands of the barbarians. Today I still struggle to get my hair bouncy which was promised to me by on such talented scissorman after having the manee chopped like a vegetable.. a la veg cut!!

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Those barbarians! Fleecing us of hundreds of rupees and giving nothing in return except ugliness and heartache! I think there should be a law against this kind of crime! :D

      Reply
      1. Kajal Kapur

        I second you :) And now that we’re at it….I’d like to sue the shampoo and conditioner companies for promising volume for my hair for the last 10 years !

        Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      You know how they say – khoon khaulna – in Hindi? Well, sit in a corner by yourself and think about the after-effects of some of your worst haircuts….and see that feeling take over! :D

      Reply
  10. Rachna

    These barbers really trouble you, don’t they! BTW, I think crew cut looks really good is so low maintenance. You know I used to think that it is easy for guys with hair cut never going wrong. With women, we are never happy with the hair cut after the first wash. These idiot hair stylists don’t really know how to give a hair cut that can look gorgeous after the first wash. I am so sick and tired of them that I have been sticking with this one lady for the past 5 years. At least she doesn’t make me want to go bald after every hair cut. Hair raising tales for you for sure :).

    Sorry am on a working vacation, wasn’t online much so missed your post. BTW, I tried to subscribe to your posts by email option but it did not send me a verification email. Any idea why?

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Oh I can personally vouch for the practicality and appeal of the crew cut!
      Yeah, I was wondering why you were lying low on FB. I hope the ‘vacation’ part of work is at someplace nice!
      Not sure about why the email alerts are not working…Hmm…I will have to check. Thanks for letting me know.

      Reply
  11. Dagny

    You do change your style often. In the first pic, there was a distinct suggestion of Brad Pitt. Sachhi…!

    Reply
  12. Pareshan Writer (@GvSparx)

    He was a simple man with 3 simple settings – Short, Medium and Long.

    Once I went to a nearby salon. He asked me “Sir chhote kar dun?”. I replied “bhai bade kaise karega”. The look on his face was same as MSD’s when Sourav Ganguly dropped Chris Gayle.

    Barbers are bad people. I think they bribe parents to compulse us to go to them. Or maybe our parents want us to pay for the yellow dal we skipped a meal at.

    Nice post, your beautiful pictures are obviously a treat to the eyes and the long comment thread is a pain in the heart.

    Reply
  13. Soham

    He Ha Ha…From the wide range of Hair-Styles you have donned through the span of your adulthood , Its evident that your hair , no matter how unruly , at-least offers you the flexibility of change. My hair for example is hard enough to be used as a potential scrubbing material , thereby leaving me no choice other than sporting the ‘Koi Style nehi karne ka Bhaiya…Normal Cut de do..Baas!!’ :P

    Reply
  14. purbaray

    The moment you get your hair chopped off, people start referring to your luscious locks, your good looks in past tense. It’s a good exercise in downsizing your vanity.

    And I noticed that you kept it short :P

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Hah! In my case, there is no particular length of hair that has allowed me to gratify my vanity! Short, long and everything in between! :D
      You, on the other hand, look good in all the hairstyles I have seen you in so far.

      Reply
  15. The Fool

    Have you tried women? In Germany, I landed up at a new saloon and was surprised that two young women were to cut my hair. They handled my hair with so much delicacy and tenderness – it was really worth the 3 Euros more than I had to pay for the Turkish barber who used to look like a gladiator trainer.

    Reply
  16. Rickie Khosla Post author

    Yeah, a couple of times. But I felt they were worse. They were so delicate with my hair that I didn’t even know if they were doing anything to it. And the end result was as bad.
    Turkish barber sounds quite dangerous! :D

    Reply
  17. Diwakar Narayan

    Lovely post, Rickie. I remember an instance when I gave special instructions to a barber (before he was to operate on my hair) of a remote village and remember what he did. I sat for an hour on his chair and finally came out with all the finishing lines burning with fire. The 47C temperature in Gaya made it worse.

    Reply
  18. ddeepa

    OMG Rickie, you had me laughing at serial killer and a lock of hair as memento!!! :) Grouping barbers into categories, now I have read it all! :D How do you even imagine these!!! Wow!

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla

      Deepa, they have given me a lifetime of anguish. It was time to acknowledge their contribution to making me the troubled man that I am through a blog post! Hahhah!

      Reply
  19. blogwatig

    I must confess, I saw all the pics before I read the post. You look so pretty.

    And what is with men and barbers ya? Hardly any growth and you run to get it off? I liked your tresses. Pehle bolte toh would have done a Rapunzel post on you for the Shampoo contests.

    Accha, ab post toh you know regular tha, tumhare level ka. Humourous and kickass toh ab tumhare average scores hai. Kabhi toh kuch bura likho! :P

    Reply
  20. Ashwini C N

    Ha ha, Loved reading this. Everyone has a story to narrate when it comes to the mane matters. I did not know men had a tough time, like us women to tell the hair stylists what exactly we need!

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Oh believe me, men suffer the same indignities as women do on that godawful barber chair! Just because we are not expected to cry, we have to bottle our emotions within. But, of course, those emotions have to have an outlet sometimes! :D

      Reply
  21. Jyoti Mishra

    ha ha..
    the saloon, irrespective of male/female, and their endless tales..
    you know when the real problem comes when u get stuck with a mean-barber :P

    you end up regretting the moment you had the idea of getting a hair-cut. I was a victim once :(

    Reply
  22. Santulan

    I like my hair either too short or shoulder length long.. Personally, I prefer Jaweb Habib’s in spite of the exorbitant charges they charge..

    In the second pic, you look like Sam from Supernatural

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      So, the awful news from my end is that the Habib’s salon next door to my place closed down.

      Ok, if Sam is the handsomer of the two blokes on the show, then yes, I agree, I do look like him! :D

      Reply
  23. Indrani

    Never thought of styling my hair yet and this post doesn’t encourage me either. :) And I think you looked good with those long locks, trimmed hair gives a more smarter look though.

    Reply
  24. riddhiculous

    Ok, more than the post, I loved your hair.. And I think the beauty bloggers did have an effect on you.. And you werent actually joking..

    Jokes apart, Liked the tone of the article on the whole. Good perspective. hair dresers have a lot on stake. I meet them more than often.

    :D

    Reply
  25. Achala

    Very nice Rickie. I myself had a hack job done on my hair last week. To the extent that when I went up to pay, the owner looked at me and hastily added a 10% discount.

    Reply
  26. Sakshi Nanda

    We have discussed hair, hair cuts, hair loss, hair tonics, hair and there, and everywhere SO much now, that this post seems to be a juicy combination of all our head-y woes. But I see it was written many months before I met you. Oh well, so you couldn’t have plagiarised my thoughts barbers and their barbaric acts. And this, you have seen on my head, twice over.
    What a post.
    Now tell me, how much for a hair cut at your salon which has satin sheets to drape you in?

    Reply
  27. mahabore

    Wow, that was quite the treatise on your hairy woes :D As for me, I believe in just two hair styles, short and shorter. This comes from the realization that whatever I do to my hair, I end up looking like a geek, a noob and a nerd all rolled into one anyways. I therefore go for the style with the least maintenance, ie, less oiling, less shampooing, less styling required….

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Frankly, that sounds like the wisest choice under all circumstances! I think I keep experimenting with my hair because of the sheer joy from the fact that I still have it!

      Reply

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