On the 29th of November, on a cool winter's night in the outskirts of Bangalore, I did the unthinkable.
Rather, hang on. Chronological order of events is always more pleasant. So here goes: After a routine, harmless thursday at work I headed out the company gates a free man, and thought I'd finally give due respect to the one item that had been weighing rather heavily on the head (insert customary pun brag-phrase here) for a while - a long overdue haircut.
Months of having stayed in this fag end of the garden city had taught me how to really shed mane quick and fast, and make my Naturals-visiting colleagues think long and deep about hard-earned money. For I had found my barber, in the chaotic, cow-sporting, (yes cacophonous too, if you must) lanes of Konappa Agrahara. I have already waxed eloquent on the latter place in the previous post, and it is of no surprise that I find myself going there now and then every month just to buy some knickknacks or down some chaat from the roadside stalls.
So there I was, a bus ride and half a packet of Dark Fantasy cookies later, inside the tiny nondescript shop. The regular face, the owner was absent, and in his place lurked a heavily built man deeply engrossed in performing shaving rituals on some chap in one chair. The other chair was similarly inhabited, with the owner's aide tending to him.
I had to wait. I expect people coming straight from office to demand a haircut, in itself must have been odd in these places, so it was of no wonder that quite a few heads turned when I got up from where I was sitting, and proceeded to take off my shirt.
Law and order, however, was restored when the junta saw that I was wearing a tee inside my office shirt, hence validating a change of robes. We were good to go. Meanwhile, the owner-barber's aide was going medieval on a hapless customer's head - slapping, tapping and patting around with NavaratnaCool oil for lubrication. Head massage, not today maybe later - I made a mental note. A few minutes later, it was my hair's turn to be subjected to the scythe. And the date turned out to be with the new chap.
If there's anything a lot of guys would cringe at, it's the thought of an unfamiliar barber given administrator-privileges on your hair. Add to it the fact that I have to take off my glasses while he goes about his business, you have a nearly-blind me trying to guess the state of things from a mirror-reflection which looks like someone blur-filtered it in photoshop some ten to fifteen times (and a few more, just in case). Not good. Nope.
Fortunately, though, this chap spoke broken tamil. I communicated my need clearly to him, and he nodded enthusiastically. And whatay enthusiasm that was! He darted from one side of the chair to the other, twisted my head through right angles in mere fractions of seconds and had the scissors in his hand chattering merrily without a stop. Two quick gestures from the comb and my hair was already down on its knees, ready to submit to his each one of his equipment's (masochistic) whims and fancies. All through this, the blurry image my eyes were giving me served no purpose, so I resigned myself with a sigh to whatever grooming that would present itself in the end.
One has to realise one's limits.
Finally, he had given my hair a pull or two, and a few reassuring pats and I knew that I had reached the point of no return. He then proceeded to whip out the razor and gingerly place a newly opened blade on it, with the tenderness of a surgeon proceeding to divert blood flow through away from an ailing coronary artery. A quick clean up and I was done. The man took a few steps backward, and beamed in satisfaction. In a second, the expression was gone, and he made a few arbitrary clicks around my head with the scissors. Rinse. Repeat.
Holy hell.. It's his first time, I exclaimed to myself in horror.
Years of near-blindness have taught me the art of reviewing a hair-cut by merely running my fingers through my hair. The man was good at what he did. It seemed perfect. I put on my glasses. Now it was my turn to beam. I handed him the nominal (or cheap, depending on where you are from) sum of forty rupees and strutted out, feeling light. All was well with the world.
Clad in a loose tee and my neck smelling of Cuticura talc (dont ask me. It's something universal to their trade) I hailed an auto and noted from the corner of my eye that two others had done the same - the autorickshaw had now magically transformed itself into a 'share auto' which meant it was going to be a little cramped inside, or worse, I would have to ride half-bum on the driver's perch.
However, another gentleman had beat me to the front and I was forced to share space in the back. But oh delights of life, the co-passengers were females. To add to things, the birdwatching mind had already #noted that one of them was hot, and she happened to be the one squeezed next to me. The auto flew, and so did time. (Future wifey/girlfriend reading this - oye I'm just kidding okie! What's a post without a bit of masala in it.. haha I know right?). Unfortunately the two of them were old acquaintances or so, and most of the conversation took place to my right side. So fast forwarding - I got down with one side of my tee smelling of some exotic female deo.
Which brings us to where the post started. A casualty of the haircut - one of the little hairs (or I think it was that) - had somehow gotten its way into my mouth and I had noticed its presence. All attempts to somehow evacuate it from its perch had failed and I had no option left except the one -
I SPAT. Onto the road.
I hated people who did it. And ironically, after having written about it long back, I just did a haaakthoo right by the side of the road. I watched as a car sped past, its tyre picking up the little drop. I watched, disgusted at my action, as the tale spread in the form of a mark on the rubber, to faraway lands. Wherever the Volkswagen Polo would travel.
"Anika! Aneeaeekaaaaaaaaa!", she shouted as she trotted alongside me. "Where are you Aneekaaaa?" With all the sweet love of an elder sis, continued to call out for her sibling, running to the football field.
Minutes later, I saw the kids from the balcony of my apartment - Anika and her sister - as the little kiddos held hands and walked back home.