Unlike our mutual friend Pastrami who routinely spends many a big bucks at that Haakim Aalim place in Bandra, I get my hair cut at this... umm... legacy haircutting saloon bang opposite Wadala station.
Saloon, mind you, not salon. There is an 'o' missing.
And that is all the difference between a flowery fellow making trendy conversation while he snips away and Mama, my regular scissorsmith, who seldom raises a peep out of his well creased mouth. But what Mama lacks in style and panache he makes up for in experience and consistency. He is, in fact, Sushilkumar Shinde's haircutter of choice. Since youth. Shinde now has a fast outfield up there. So Mama has cut a lot of heads.
Irrespective of what I tell Mama to do - long, short, sideburns trimmed, clean at the back, thin on the sides - he finally gives me exactly the same cut. Time after time. There is a certain welcome comfort in that. Crisp partition on my right (your left), 2.5 cms of side burn and nearly vertical side trim.
Classic Hairdressers is quite the old setup and has a board on the wall which says: "Laundry towel and cloth Rs. 10 extra". Which means, unless requested otherwise, you get wrapped in cloth that throngs with mature virus and bacteria that once draped a young Shinde.
Yet I enjoy the familiarity, the old film magazines - Is Bobby Deol the next big thing?! - and the no nonsense approach of it all. And the fact that for the price of one of Pastrami's trims I can get barbered for the entire duration of an elected government that does not support the nuclear deal.
Yet last fortnight, when I got my latest trim, something happened that shook me to my very core. Halfway through a cut and shave Mama suddenly lunged forward and did something that had never EVER happened in my life.
He gingerly trimmed my nose hair.
The sky fell down around me. My self esteem impacted the floor noisily. Alas! Egads!
Afteryouth had, yet again, struck a mighty blow with nary a warning. I was old enough to get my nosehair trimmed! The shame... the shame.
Every man worth this salt knows that whence the nosehair needs a quick snip the faint attachments with youth doth begin to crumble. From then it is all downhill till the ears themselves sprout locks at which point you just throw yourself in front of a Virar Fast to end the agony and carbon footprint.
Note from Wikipedia: Nasal hair should not be confused with cilia of the nasal cavity, which are the microscopic cellular strands that, unlike macroscopic nasal hair, draw mucus up toward the oropharynx via their coordinated, back-and-forth beating.
Now, each morning, I give the wind tunnels a quick inspection to ensure no wispy flashes. Those with experience know that nothing hurts like an inadvertently pulled out nosehair follicle. Especially in an electric shaver. As the ancients used to say: "Two from the nose is like a fist from the bush."
This morning I noticed a stray peeper and spoke out at the world in general and at the missus in particular about my woe. She threw me a terrific glance before looking away. As we cabbed to work eyes were transfixed outside the window. And even when we parted ways and she walked into her office, she said good bye without looking at me in the face.
Sometimes I think only Mama cares. Only he understand my problems. I completely see where Sushilkumar Shinde is coming from.
So I guess I will now sit and wait till this happens:
Sob. Sniff. Sigh. Sneeze!