Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology of the RWTH Aachen University

Barber’s Shops

In India, one of the nicest and cheapest places to go and get refreshed quickly as well as looking even more handsome was to go to Barber’s Shops. They can be found everywhere, literally everywhere. Sometimes the Barber’s Shop is the pavement itself or simply a parking lot, slightly better ones offer equipment like a mirror propped onto a wall or even a chair beside the road. There are some that are located in small huts or sheds. They were in the streets of the cities or outside at highways, at beaches or in the forests. All these ‘’shops’’ looked very interesting and different. I never went to one of them, even though the barbers seemed to be masters of their trade. I observed some of these barbers reusing the same blade again, without even cleaning it. Some barbers simply washed the used blades in nallahs (channels). These circumstances were at least hygienically questionable in my opinion. Further, I could not imagine these blades to remain very sharp over a long time. This imagination made the whole shaving procedure sound painful to me, so I went to the fancier barbers, which had a real shop and used proper equipment and products. They were plain and simple inside and looked like very old hairdresser’s salons in Germany, some of them even had an air conditioning system and usually more than one customer’s chair. In bigger cities I even saw very hip Barber’s Shops, which seemed to be influenced by western style. I never went to one of those, since I think the prices there would have been the same as in the west. The shops I went to were meeting points for men, who all seemed to know each other very well. They were all regular customers.  Therefore, the barbers were always really happy to have other people as costumers, especially at places, where this does not often happen. I mostly experienced very talkative barbers who were really interested in me and I did not stop to praise their doing, so they were happy as well. None of the visits was the same. Sometimes I got a strange and painful head massage, sometimes they used half a bottle of foam or soap, sometimes they only used water. One barber had really bad eyes and shaky hands, that was the most adventurous shaving I got. I was quite nervous during the whole procedure. All the barbers had one thing in common, they all struggled to trim the moustache. Sometimes they just ignored the wish. A well grown moustache is a must have. So mostly I went there to get outline back in shape, which they all did very well. And since it was very cheap compared to prices in Europe I used the services very often. The prices ranged from 45 – 80 Rupees. It was worth every single Paise, every time.

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