With changing times the life of the barber seems to have come to a full circle, with the profession gaining international recognition and youngsters eager to learn the art from renowned institutes that have come up all over. ASMITA POLJI caught up with a barber from Pernem, who was initiated into the trade at a mere Rs 5 per hair cut and knew only two basic hair styles, which are no longer in fashion today
Barber, who often referred to as hairstylist or hairdresser in today’s parlance have undergone a gradual change and many of their shops are now not mere hair-cutting outlets, but salons, offering additional services and style.
And salons too today have their own fancy brands and designers, who attract the new generation, eager to latch on the current trend or trending style. Of course, the additional style and razzmatazz comes with a cost and what was a simple haircut is now a complex mix of many things right at one stop.
The simple Rs 5 haircut has come a long way in creating a brand of its own and even the smallest of barbers has made the necessary changes to keep his business intact, even though they cannot match the big name and big-budgeted salons.
Speaking to the Herald, 70-year-old Babuso Naik from Pernem narrated his journey from charging mere Rs 5 to over Rs 100 in the last 65 years. He recalls how he started his business from a roadside stall with just a single chair and a box.
“There were only two styles during our time – zero-cut and boy-cut, but today there is no trend of zero cut. I started with haircutting work when I was 18 and since this was our traditional occupations I learned haircutting at home, he re.
“I grew up seeing my father cutting hair of different people and I got inspired with the way he used to cut the hair with his scissor moving effortlessly, as it snipped. We had no concrete structure to make the customers sit comfortably but since there were not many barbers in town and people had no option other than cutting hair at roadside,” he disclosed.
As time passed, things changed and after 10 years we rented a small room to continue our business.
During our time, Rs 5 was charged for a normal haircut, but if it was a special haircut than Rs 10 or Rs 15 was charged from customers, who did not mind paying, as long as they got what they desired, he said.
But today things have completely changed and barbers have replaced hairstylists, he laments.
But since we were dedicated, even after so many years, the same customers, who used to come in for a hair cut about 50 years ago still come in. Of course, they are old men now, Naik laughs.
But unfortunately, these are the only customers who enter our shop for a haircut, and we have not had young boys come in willingly for a long time, he sighs, praising his loyal customers.
“Today’s generation find our haircuts old-fashioned; which they feel will make them look ugly. Today out tried and tested oil is replaced by gels, soaps, shampoos etc. And we would have one or two types of combs, but today there are different types of combs and scissor, for different things, besides hot, cold, fast and slow hairdryers.
The Goan haircut journey, which began with Rs 5 per haircut, has now reached Rs 50 to even Rs 5000 depending on what you do and where, he said, indicating the pampering at five-star resorts and branded upmarket salons.
Along with haircutting, we also were present at various religious functions and at funerals. The mundan ceremony would help us get additional income, Naik pointed out.
Many people also call us home when they want to cut their hair or of their little ones who cry at the barber’s shop or old people who can't come out of their homes, the energetic barber said.
Till our time the famous hairstyles were limited to Indian actors but now it has crossed the boundaries and has reached to Hollywood actors, singers, dancers and more. Amitabh Bachan, Dharmendra, Dev Anand were the top names of actors whom people use to try copy.
I’m glad that the business of hairstyling has now become a respectable profession, with centres proving dedicated courses all over to teach those interesting in making this a career option.