Wednesday, August 02, 2006

HairCut II

The previous post and the comments in it made me think about good haircut places in Madras and also discuss what different people say when they visit a barber. The whole haircut thing has been gnawing in my mind for the past few days and I really want to put an end to this misery.

So here is a review of Haircut Salons, I have visited.

Madras is known for throwing nasty surprises to new comers from unexpected quarters. It is a relatively inexpensive place for many things but not for haircut. I seriously think a haircut here costs twice as much as most other places. People infact make too much out of a trivial thing like a haircut. I generally think its a big business opportunity for people who want to invest in this sort of business.

Many people from Travelling Haircut Guy in Pondicheri (the guy who walks on the road and sells haircut service by shouting on top of his voice) to Ramesh in Nungambakkam have given me hair cuts. This is just a mention of the salient few.

Kerala Saloon: There is the famous Kerala Saloon in Pondy Bazaar, near the police station. It is traditionally the "cheap & best" category. The kind of place, where fathers patronize. The barber there acts as if he already knows how to cut your hair and your preferences are 'optional' information for him. You can already see him mentally tuning out your cries for "short on the sides" as he puffs the poorly aimed water spray in your face and hair. But you know what! the cut in the end will be much better than what you ideas would have resulted in. The people there have seen everything and know everything. The hair cut is like Rs.35 or something. Compared to the going rates, its peanuts. You get all the tabloids from Dinamalar to TOI here. Spending time waiting for a haircut is a breeze. Since this salon is full of our friendly neighborhood mallus, they talk to you like you've known them for years and soon the conversation takes deep philosophical undertones. Its all fine until you realize you forgot to bring any money. Then you get suspicious frowns and stares while you are allowed the '1-phone call' home. Things get back to normal when they see your angry father bring in the moolah. You are recognized as a 'regular' and they all join him in regretting the decadence of the younger generation. Only negative: Does not have A/C. Sometimes you do have to tell them to put new blades. Just as a precaution. The rest in the list dont need to be said anything of this sort.

Ramesh Hair Stylists: Extremely expensive. As babs would say "friggin' expensive". Located in the plush Nungambakkam high road, right next to Gemini flyover. A hair cut and a shave costs more than 200Rs. There is no fixed rate here. You can never see the menu or know the rates in advance. Unless you are a 'regular' and he knows you by name. It is quite like the autorikshaw of the haircutting world. The rate starts at around 200 and it goes up depending on the barber's estimation of your worth. Truth be said, the haircut you get here is the best you will ever get anywhere in the world. Talented bunch of folks these people. The funny thing is, they keep dropping these hints. When they are cutting your hair, they talk to each other and say "last customer. very generous man! gave 100Rs tips". They say it not once but several times, until they make sure you got the point. In reality, their reaction is the same if you tip them Rs.100 or Rs.5000. They always give a look, which tells you that they feel they deserved something better. If you stay long enough some movie star may pop in for a cut.

Oddessey: I have blogged about this and I have pampered myself shamelessly here. I have a fondness for Thirunelveli. The 'annachi' here is from Thirunelveli. Its located in Arya Gowda road, West Mambalam. Its all like a family there. The service is good. For once you get to hear tamizh being spoken in Madras. This is really a rarity. The price is really high its Rs.100 for a shave, haircut and oil massage.

Ramesh II: This is too expensive. Way beyond belief. a Haircut alone is Rs. 150 or upwards. They give the bill in a box. Once my father opened the box, saw the bill and said, "I don't want to buy the box. A haircut will do just fine" and did not laugh back when the hairstylist laughed. The best thing about this place is the porn. Seriously! I am not kidding. Its got all sorts of porn books in the waiting area. Penthouse, Playboy, Debonaire and some really wierd stuff. It totally sets the Sunday morning mood. I have to warn the guys who are reading this that it can prove to be an embarassing disaster if you are not appropriately dressed. Since you would want to know the address now, its in Brindhavan Street Extn, W. Mambalam, last time I saw. The haircut here is bad. He gives unsolicited pimple advise, which really ends up screwing your wallet more than your face.

What do you tell them?

If you are interested you can leave comments on what you tell barbers to do, to achieve certain results. I have told my usual but unsuccessful dialog for many years. To me this whole haircut thing is random. The barber is no Einstein. Its not as if he has put his Harvard University degree up there to say he is an ivy league barber. To be politically incorrect and brutal. I am thinking the very fact that he is a barber could in all probability mean he is some sort of a loser, who is probably very very frustrated in life. I would be if I was a low-paid often-yelled-at barber. Most of them are. So it really boils down to how he feels that day. Most probably, he hates his work, hasn't washed after he dug his nose in the morning, never had a habit of washing his hands after he goes to the potty, the thought has never crossed his mind in his life, ever. The funny thing is - you know all this when he smears powder or shaving gel in your face, lips and nose with his hand. Beyond all this you know that he probably does not want to be doing this right now and needs to be somewhere else. For you to get a good haircut, he needs to be in a charitable mood.

P.s1: Teju's Hair cut post is here. Very interesting

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kerala charges you 45 bucks these days and it has centralised airconditioning system!! I went there last year before I came to US.
They even have oil massage, facials! lol!

sunshine said...

more barber stories!! lol!

ladies hair dresser stories r equally entertaining..
once paid an undisclosable 4 figure amount to get my hair done and came back home looking like a blonde boy!

Nilu said...

Where do people charge such high prices? I live in Madras and still give Rs 25 and talk to the guy about his akka payyan in New College.

un mudhumaya intha mathri scene pottu koraikka pakkatha

logic said...

I just tell them to make it short but not too much and they do a fine job (mostly). One day i actually saw a guy asking for pencil and paper to draw and show!

Anonymous said...

I used to be a regular at Ramesh (Brindavan street)..Infact got my trimming done 2 days before my wedding there...

Where's this odyssey at Aryagowda road..??

Ace of Space said...

Hilarious posts this one and the previous one! I remember Babs getting his haircut done at the Ramesh's (Nungambakkam one) for a ridiculously large amount before the wedding and it did seem like his beauty therapy costed more than my bridal makeup :))

F e r r a r i said...

The best part of hair cut ordeal is the way the barber scrubs the hair, behind the neck. And apply powder with some funny looking object called buff. He he :D Whenever he takes that buff in hand, I remember small kids. The way parents put dhrishti pottu in kannam and apply that buff powder :))

Sowmya said...

you should send an entry to ammani's 'my dear'. it might be cathartic and heal your wounds :-)

Hawkeye said...

anon,

thanks 45 is still cheap(er). It used to be 25 some 10 years ago.

Hawkeye said...

sunshine,

i spent a 4 figure thing b4 my marriage. I came back looking the same. my parents werent impressed.

Hawkeye said...

nilu,

Rs. 25 kadai ellam is for 'perusu'. come join the 'youth'. go to ramesh. its in the lakme building next to newyorker restaurant

Hawkeye said...

anon2,

odyssey is right at the intersection of Postal colony 2st street and Arya Gowada road (diagonally opp to postal colony bustop)

Hawkeye said...

logic,

using a pencil and paper is not a bad idea. i am thinking of the digital foto

Hawkeye said...

ace of space,

babs and I spoke the week before you guys wed. he has a bad memory, but i will still bash him if he says i did not recommend him to do that. i remember him asking twice if facial etc was a good idea. i think i also recommended 'ramesh' and he said knew them from b4.

a couple of other folks who visit here will attest that i have this pattern of recommending such things to my friends. sort of test bed b4 i did it myself. usually iaccompany them but in babs case I was in bangalore.

Hawkeye said...

prabhu,

thank god for the (b)puff - otherwise it would be his hand. most times they dont dust off the hair.

Hawkeye said...

somwya,

good idea. will think about it

Anonymous said...

Hawk -- This is one I couldn't have EVER written :-)

Teju said...

hey hawkeye...

this post is awesome

thanks for the appreciation in the last line :)

Kaps said...

Another popular one is the Malabar Hair Dressers opposite the Bata showroom in Usman Road. Haven't been there for ages....the rates used to be reasonable and the place is always crowded.

Gradwolf said...

odyssey! I was a odyssey regular all 4 yrs of my engineering life at west mambalam....annachi is a gem of a person, really!