R.T.Nagar, as I remember it, has never ever been a destination for anybody who doesn’t live here. Yes, there were the rare flashes-in-the-pan for a while when the first go-karting track in the city was opened at Patel’s Inn, and when the only place people could eat Chocolate Cheese Cake was on the 80 feet road. And there used to be many miniscule flashes when the Romeos realized that most of MCC was filled with the populace of the area which didn’t have anything to do with Tagore.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when junta told me that they had been travelling from various corners of the city once every 2 months or so to get their hair cut by a certain “Aunty”. They said that they couldn’t tell why they were doing that because the experience of this hair cut was an indescribable pleasure in itself, and that to understand it, they said, “You should see it for yourself”(sic).
But I’m the kind of guy who thinks twice before buying a packet of 3 Ferrero Roches as I know that he can get a few huge bars of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk for the same amount; the kind of guy who wonders if it is worth to ask a super chick out (knowing that he might have a chance, given that nobody else seems to be asking her as she’s so damn cute that she seems out of anybody’s league), not because she might turn me down, but because if she doesn’t, I might have to spend my money taking her out to CCDs and Mochas. So, there was no way I was going to pay for a haircut in dollar value…that too when I was in India!
But it is not only about the money…its about memories too. I still remember how, as a kid, I used to sit on a plank, which was barely enough to hold my weight, while my grandpa barked instructions on which style to cut and trim my already-receding hair-line. As I grew older, I started to both dread and respect the skills of these keratin butchers when they slew all those unruly masses while appreciating the graceful moves of the likes of Jayamalini and Silku-Smitha on the television that were mounted precariously over the chair farthest from the door. I also came to realize that all the barbers that I had come across were gults. Somehow, I never bothered wondering why that was so. Anyway, I was at the barbers’ last week and I was reminded why someone like me wouldn’t want to go to “Aunty” to “experience” the butchery of something I treasure, and also, pay for the bleddy massacre!
One wouldn’t get to hear how intricately and awesomely the reigning Ringa-Ringa girl maybe connected to the upcoming poltu who’s been in the news, as explained by an uncle who has momentarily stopped leching at the photos in the seedy tabloid (which normally ends up attracting squatters, rather than assuaging the waiting junta’s impatience), as the item song belts at full volume (Something not even Headlines Yesterday and TV Ombood wouldn’t cover). Also, one wouldn’t get to witness auto-drivers admonish the barber in the most colorful potpourri of languages for cutting the side-locks *oh so short* that it would make all the police-mamas to stop him and demand bribe everyday till he grows back his side-locks, only to cool down the next minute as he gets a free bleach as a compensation, and then, *blushes* for the next ten minutes when people waiting for their turn tell him how his chances of getting hit on by phigures have improved astronomically, now that he’s “white”. There is also the uncle who has been checking out his newly acquired cut and clean-shaven look for the last few minutes, and suddenly asks your barber to shave his arm-pits…that’s when you wake up and squeal to indicate that the blade that the barber has picked up is the one that he has been using on you.
I might be mistaken, but I’m sure that a cut at “Aunty” wouldn’t offer such intermittent opportunities of adrenaline rush, combined with a fresh perspective on everything lustful and sundry. Given his background and his target customers, “Venkateshwaralu” might not have the capital to setup a swanky, 2nd floor shop to over-charge his customers, but he still has the acumen to slyly enquire about your salary, and hence deter any protests from you when he mentions that his charge has gone up to Rs. 30 now. All you can do at that time is glare at him and inform him that you will most probably go to “Aunty” from next time, only to see him snigger and get on with his job. For he knows…you will be back.