If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Jun 3, 2009

The mountain came to Mohammed...

Thursday was a holiday. Every Thursday. Because the Jesuits in their wisdom realized that schoolboys need a break after three days of school. Or did they need a break from the boys. So on Wednesday night we were allowed to stay up a little later. Most Thursdays were our own. To ride our cycles and shoot pigeons.
Unless the barber came. He was a thin man. All dressed in white. With a black hat. And an aluminium trunk. Bent over , a little . The kitchen stool was hauled out of the house. Yesterdays newspaper was spread out on the staircase landing. The stool then took centrestage, and you the chief protagonist sat on the stool. Three steps on the flight leading upwards, the barber placed his trunk. The lid flipped to reveal combs , brushes, scissors, cut-throat razors, creams and a white sheet. The sheet would come out and be draped around you with the tightness at the neck that threatened the oxygen supply to your brain. It had to be. Otherwise the cut hair would slip thru. He’d then ask you wheter you wanted your hair cut long or short. Long. These were the days of the Beatles and Peter Frampton. He’d snip away. While yesterdays headlines slowly got obliterated. When the cutting was done , he’d take a little steel cup ( Ok Vatee ) out of his trunk. He’d then head to the kitchen door for the required water. And you would hear your Mother tell him as she returned his water filled vatee that ‘Short’ was the order of the day. Between the devil and the devil and the deep blue sea.
“Baba [ We were all called Baba ] Mummy says short”
Damn. Goodbye John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Ok but not too short.
So the vatee would be put on hold and the scissors and comb were pressed into service once more. When Long had been morphed into Short and the days head lines went from , Black and White and Read all over, what is it ? To just Black.
Then the vatee was called upon once more and he’d lather the back of your neck. He’d strop the razor to an edge Maugham would have been proud of. Those little bristles at the back of your neck did’nt stand a chance. You held that sneeze while he had that razor going. The razor went back into the trunk and the brush came out. Loose hairs brushed away, the brush went back and the powder tin came out. To reveal powder and puff. Which would be dusted onto your freshly shaved neck. The powder tin went back in and the mirror came out. He’d hold it up in front of you so that you could partake in his masterpiece. From all angles. He’d go behind you and the ballet would unfold. Of you trying to see the reflection of the back of your head in a mirror held behind you without turning around so much that the object at the focal point of the mirror changed. The toga then came off and you would arise. And while you went to the bathroom and looked at your head for twenty minutes running in the mirror, he was busy. Packing up his trunk so that brushes and razors would hold their assigned place in the universe even after the trunk went from horizontal to vertical. Packing up all the hair in yesterdays paper. Collecting his payment from Skinhead sympathetic parent. Who would be yelling at you to go for a bath immediately.
‘ Do you want to get barber’s itch? ‘
No. Then hurry up and have a bath.
And he’d be gone. To more heads that needed lightening.
After the washing was done you were instructed to hang the clothes out on the line.
I will, but where’s the stool ?

8 comments:

sriku said...

This post brings back some memories! Once my sis cut my hair at home, wow was that a disaster! Good stuff...perfect for a mid-week read. Keep em coming !

Anurag said...

Hey Clement...i have never had the luxury of a barber coming home! but yeah, i could feel as if it was happening to me!

Smiling Dolphin said...

you shot pigeons??????????????

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Nice - we had an interesting barber too back in Hyderabad - for the boys! Ask Andrew about him ;)
Corinne

Peter said...

Thanks guys I think it’s hilarious! And typical of a Bandra boy story (very true I must say)
Still laughing ...keeps em ! coming
Cheers

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Floyd said...

The Castellino boys, Francis and Patrick were always trying to take business from the Virendra barber. They insisted on cutting their own hair, usually in big chunks. But the barber was always called the next week to "Re Style" thier hair.

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