Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Mane Man


“Chumma irikkadei!” (Shut up, you!) he growled, as he dragged a blunt razor across the back of my neck. I was six and petrified. Nicknamed “Kandan The Barbarian” by all who knew him, this guy was known to draw blood at the slightest provocation. “Aaaan. Mindaathe iri.” (Not a word!) He said ominously, and went away to sharpen the razor on a rubber tube he’d tied to the window for the purpose.

I whimpered and looked at my brother, trussed up similarly in a white sheet next to me, and prayed for our mother to appear miraculously and save us. A few more snips and scrapes later, his work was done. I tried my best not wince as the blunt blade sliced into the side of my neck, but he wasn’t impressed. “Poda!” (Get out!) he roared, as we paid up and ran for our lives. For if anyone took the old adage: “Fashion is pain” seriously, it was this man: Manikandan, our not-so-friendly neighbourhood barber.

After several tear-filled entreaties to our parents to spare us the torture of Manikandan’s rusty blade, our parents finally agreed to take us to a slightly more upmarket barbershop a few km away. My brother discovered the joys of the 80s bouffant there. It swayed like the fronds of a coconut tree as he towered a good foot and a half over his classmates. I, however, decided to stick with my Beatles-Goes-To-Pulayanarkotta hairstyle all through my childhood.

And thus I remained right until college, when a rather nasty bump into a lamp post made me realize that hair flopped over the eyes wasn’t a great idea in the era of electicity. I was all set to get a rad new 90s Bangalore cut that would give me the Hollywood edge that I’d always dreamt of. However, the 8 rupees that I paid Jagganath Reddy of Up To Date Hair Style, Vyalikaval, didn’t quite seem to do the trick. He’d grab a clump of my head, shake his head and say “Yenri, hing ide nim koodhlu?” (You sure that's hair?) He’d then call his assorted baavas, maavagarus and thammudus sitting around to come have a look at it. I’d close my eyes tight and pretend to die.

At one point, I’d had enough. I sent Jagannath Reddy an I Hate You card one September, and grew my mop out until it threatened to engulf the Sankey Tank. When my strangulated family pleaded for mercy, I took it to the best salon in town at the time – Spratt on Magrath Road. The proprietrix looked down her nose at it and said “Relaxer, maximum strength. Now.” to her waiting assistant. Four hours later, after much grunting and groaning, as assistant after exhausted assistant relaxed and flat ironed my hair, I emerged looking like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. The Spratt lady took one look and burst out laughing. In my face. “I’m sorry, but it looks hilarious. Hahahahahaha. That will be one thousand five hundred, thanks and do come back.” I covered my face with a towel and ran to La Bamba to buy myself a very large hat.

I did everything to my hair to get it to look like Zulfi Syed and anyone else who had long hair those days, but could never get it to look the way I wanted it to. The sweet Srilankan girls at Squeeze on Lavelle Road had a go at it a couple of times, and would send me home looking like professor Snape from Harry Potter. The bearded, bejewelled stylist at Bounce told me to wash it with yoghurt. Couldn't bring myself to do it. I even had an Australian woman cut it when I was in Melbourne. “You’ve got quite a thatch up there mite”, she mumbled, grunting as her tiny little scissors tried in vain to snip through it.

Two years and a depleted bank balance later, I gave up. It was back to the barber shop for me. I now share a special relationship with Muniraju of Royal Men’s Beauty, Bhashyam Circle. When he grabs a clump of my hair and says “Yenri idhu?” I smile benevolently. When he says, “Ayyo sariyag maintrence maadbekri koodhalge. Shamf-geemf ella hachi condeesn nal itkobeku.” (Ever heard of product?), I gurgle. And finally when he says, “Shaarta, frighta?” (Short or spiked?) I say “Nimge gothallaa..” (You know it best, dude) and lie back and enjoy.

58 comments:

a million different people said...

YAAY! Firsht commentu.

I think we all have the same-to-same types similar relationship with our very own hairdressers. And we live with the fact that we need to share them also. :(

WV: ompant.

ompant empant oda nalla irukka? no.

Cindy/Snid said...

Hahaha! I love that I am starting to understand what the heck you are talking about. And for what it's worth, I totally understand hair angst..."product" indeed.

Suchi said...

You remind me of the comedian/stand up comic Raju Shrivastav (if you've watched the Indian Comedy Show, you'd know him). And greater compliment than that, I cannot think of - I'm a great fan. You have the same ability to take a mundane situation and put a humourous spin on it. As you would say, "Bhesh!"

Harishhh said...

Ha ha! Hilarious as usual!! Need more posts anna! I suffered from withdrawal syndromes for the past few months without reading your blog!

philramble said...

Attaboy. Brilliant, brilliant post.

Perakath said...

At least you have options :(

A.S. said...

Wow! Didn't expect you to keep your promise so quick! Thanks-- another hilarious one, and as I told you this is my favourite genre.

I guess the quest of the ideal barber has been a common one in many of our lives. There was a particularly scary one in IISc and if you dared to direct him, he'd tell you to shut up as he had cut CV Raman's hair and CNR Rao's hair (I don't think he had much anyway) and he knew his job far better than you did. Since the only other option was a drunkard who you were scared would snip off your ears, you kept quiet.
When I moved to Germany, I was so terrified of having to speak German at the barber's that I tried cutting my hair myself with disastrous consequences-- I even had to use a black marker to disguise empty certain patches on my scalp. Fortunately it was christmas time, so by the time people returned from their holiday, there had been some hair growth to tide over the disaster.

The one in Domlur insists everytime that I ought to have "spikes". Even though his definition of "spikes" is different from mine, but "spikes" at my age indeed...

Aishwarya said...

Teehee... I knew someone with a similar problem :) Poor guy, 6 ft 6, lanky and a mop of frizzy hair and all that! The only time the chap was genuinely happy was when he had 'good-hair'days and oh the fuss the barbers would make! "Chhe paavam" I'd say, don't poke fun. U got what u got, sport it unabashedly!

Aishwarya said...

@ Perakath - "Chhe paavam" :)

nigel jeejeebhoy said...

reminds me of the time mommy dearest sent me BACK to hygea hair dressers for men. i had returned with what i thought was a haircut. apparently it was not enough of a snipping, in her eyes. ah those were the beatle days!

maxdavinci said...

enge pone da ambi? much awaited post and truly didn't disappoint!

Now, you have a reputation to live upto! LOL....

Pri said...

hehe paapa. my uncle has three ridiculous children all of whom had the exact same hairstyle growing up - side parting yenne. uncle was official koodalu cutter and comber.

sthitapragnya said...

Aaah! Hair-cut peeves eh? I totally understand my friend! I am currently saving to sue 'Cost Cutters', Tallahassee, FL. One of the cute barberesses there, snipped my little 'shikha' off. I had grown it with such pride! I was going to ask her to spare that little wisp of hair, when she just mowed it down. Although I was smitten by her, I was her customer and I wasn't satisfied. And it wasn't even a cheap hair-cut, cost me $18 including tip. So much for the name 'Cost Cutters'!! Waat is this i say! hmpff! :-/

Anonymous said...

Fullu comedy I say..

Communicating with the barbers is one of those things thats never mastered. You think you told him well but the result leaves us thinking 'oh no! this isn't the way I wanted it' :)

Madhava said...

Nice post Bikerdude Saahibre. Not quite as funny as some of your other ones (relativity vonly), but what it lacks in the side-splitting department, it makes up for in the hair-splitting department.

Also, the Manikandan chappie reminds me of a barber I used to got to when "I was but a bonnie lad"--I forget the chap's name now. A true hair-cutting colossus, his dingy little shop off to the left of a small dark aisle was the perfect stage for him to orchestrate his "barber-ous machine-ations". I remember his grim visage lurking over the back of my head; and his irritated snaps both at my hair and at me (for the occasional squirm). While I don't doubt he was the proverbial "gruff exterior overlying a golden heart" type, I don't think I ever went there sans the mater...

P.S: Just to say that stumbled (a slight cyber one) on your blog some few weeks ago, and, habba! "entha soundarya kande"! Neeve lekhane gurugalu. varry nice yappa...

narendra shenoy said...

Shaarta, frighta! Priceless!

sanjana said...

LMAO.. awesome post as usual.. :)btw Where were u I say? Why this delay in writing blogs? busy with new work eh?

Cheers
Sanjana

maami said...

Whatdemayi...mon, you're back and all?

Hair raising/rising/ tale ba.

Good, good, good read.

Anonymous said...

Aha good one. Kudos u remember the barber's names or made up dude. Stupendous i say.

At last u showered some sympathy on fans n wrote. Thanks i wil take it as my bday gift :)

WV
~cuslecs

PizzaDude said...

HAHAHAHA!! Did you make up the names of the barber shops or they actually exist? :O

Good to see you back here :) Like Harish mentioned earlier, I was having withdrawal symptoms too.

Bikerdude said...

Hello lovelies, it is I. First of all, vera vera sorra for the loooong silence. No reason really, except for being a bit blogged out. Will be a lot more regular now, I hope :P Thanks muchly for checking in regularly and all that I say, sniffle, very touching.

a million: Err what is WV? What is ompant? Full OHT. (Old age)

cindy: Yes you're now officially bangalorean, having endured a summer and two monsoons, so i'm not surprised.

suchi, harishh,philramble, maxdavinci, narendrashenoy, sanjana :Many thanks I say.

perakath: esplis kindly elaborate and e-lucy-date?

a.s: Thanks! Haha black marker huh? :)

aishwarya: Kindly pass on my sympathies to the man. I understand!

nigel: Heh heh, my dad's line after I come back from the barber is always "Yenna da, otti vechhi anupirukaana?" (Has he stuck on some more hair to your head and sent you back?)

pri: Oh god I think I was the only non-yenne thale in mallu land. Full bottle coconut oil they will empty on heads and do side parting and come off. If by mistake thale touches your shirt full jiddu mark will be there till evening. Not that I cared. Was too busy pouting sand down Pinju J. Pappan's collar anyway.

sthitapragna: Cost cutters :) heh heh. whats a shikha? Is it a Juttu/Kudumi? Ayyo so sad I say. She was probably one of those anti harry krishna types. Did you grow it back?

madhava: heh heh nice one, thanks!

maami: Thank you for preserving dignity and decorum of this ausgusht institution at the last minute. And thank you. Ok? Ok.

cuslecs, pizzadude: Thanks I say. No no all are real. Full address and all I gave no.

Reflections said...

Hehe had the same doubts as pizzadude;-P.
Good read. LOL at most places:-D.

Anita said...

ayo..hair woes-aa?!!..che che...
I feel these ghalli shop barbers can do much better job than those "Spratts" etc etc...god vonly knows what all they use on hair....jusht a total washte of precious monies...

Hilarious...!

tata!

bluejay said...

good one after a long break!!! :)

I totally sympathise with you.. my hair, whatever shape u cut it goes back looking the same :(

I wish there was sumplace where we cud have an automated service which will tell us what hairstyle will look great on us..and we can chose..and it will automatically shape it for us..and this time..it would stay!!!!...

Aparna said...

lol at ur post!
U r sooo hillarious
BTW how did ur hair turn out to be in the end??
Next time go for a rock star hairstyle ok

Prats said...

heheh.....so Muniraju has become a celebrity a?? Come off to 15th cross, Heavenly bliss....they sure know a few snips and cuts...and they have some very good magazines too...all latesht...

gradwolf said...

aiyo da, you should come to amreeka.
You need to mention the blade size. 2,3,4. Only here I realized how "long" an inch is :|

Another Blogger said...

"Shartaa frightaa" - hilarity in two words.
why dont u jus shave ur head.. guys in my college do it all the time -it requires no "products" whatsoever plus it is awesome in summer.. and some chicks do dig bald men...

brocasarea said...

hehe...
heg ide eega koodlu!...

have u ever been to mens parlour in 15th cross malleshwaram??...

buddy said...

lol
8 Rs for a haircut!!! that's awesome

a million different people said...

Ayyo.

WV == Word Verification.

onnoda pant = on pant = ompant. :(

Leave off. Issokay.

kthxbai.

gugiinsingapore said...

ROFL! LMAO! Tetethehehhekeke!

Ahem. Long straight was was not all that bad on you I say.

ROFL! Ahem.

Peacock times look was not Professor Snape, I think the ponytail made it more shaolin no? But whatever your fancy.

(tee heee kee kee kee)

Cynic in Wonderland said...

females also suffer their tender mercies - if it makes you feel better.

WannabeWriter said...

That post was worth the wait!

I totally empathise on the hair part! I used to have that thick, curly and long hair. It was long because there is not much else you can do with hair that is thick and curly than wear it long! But now it's okay...it's not thick any more and having discovered the blow drier..not too curly either!!!!

Rithish said...

You have not been through the childhood phase, where you looked at the mirror and ran scissors through your hair. no? :-D

Anonymous said...

The Mysore barber is the bane of my dad's almost-nonexistent hair. When the grandsons visit him every summer, it is his job to take them to the barber 2 roads down ours. And to his utter disgust, anger, frustration...he charges them the VERY same 15 rupees he charges my dad!!!!! He has decided to grow it until he gets some of his money's worth!! It is really a wonderful and hilarious scene when he comes home with the boys through the backyard and grumbles and mumbles that the barber is a cheat.

Ofcourse his daughter is exactly like him and saves on the $18 PER child's haircut to pay Rs 18 instead ;-)

Aaladha Mara said...

atleast you were boy no. my mother took me (a yeng girl) and my sister to the roadside barber on the main road every 3 months for 'bof' cuts, in namma sevanagaru, Lingarapuram.

10yearslate said...

Melbourne yaavaag bandidhree? Num kade ondh maath heLirbaardha? Nimmann vimaan nildhaaN-daag bhett-yaag thiddvallree!

Nidhi said...

Haha...interesting post....1st timer at your blog...the word that made me read the whole post was "Bhashyam Circle". I stay very close to that :)

Nikhil Narayanan said...

Like @narendra shenoy said
Shaarta, frighta was a killer!

Good one.

-Nikhil

themartianscientist said...

Your new "face" is interesting.Are the grey blobs
1- Your shoulders, mislocated?
2- Well endowed boobs, really far apart?
3- Something on your shirt?
saari ba, I dont understand.

Carpe Diem said...

I sware!! What are those things?

anon canon said...

dude...WHY!!! the pic was eye candy for a lot of us. pliss to be reverting or better putting news ones.

Bikerdude said...

pizzadude, nikhil narayanan: Thanks!

anita: yes, yes good old BWSSB water in that phuss-phuss spray can is best. Abba how we used to enjoy when we were kids.

bluejay: I think they have that in the upper end places no? Some friend went and saw his pavam face in all manner of hairstyles on the comfuter in a bombay salon itseems.

aparna: Now it is more fright than shaart :P

prats: heh heh really? heavenly bliss? I havent seen that one. Immediately I will go!

gradwolf: They will cut with bladeaa? Or that surrrrr electric trimmer's blade size youre saying?

another blogger: Good idea, though one thing I will not do is that recently-out-of-brain-surgery style that amir khan (of the sagging face and over-worked-out juggies) is sporting these days, no?

brocasarea: Illa pa, lovely it is? Immdately I want to go.

buddy: haudappa haudu. what an ondraful days they were.

a million: heheh lovely thanks, sleep sleep :)

gugi: Abba poor thing you were subject to all my hair experiments no? paavam.

cynic in wonderland: I can well imagine!

wannabewriter: too much blow dryer is naat good ma. put kobri yenne, drink castroil daily and take oils baths with all manner of evil smelling herbs, its the only way, Im telling you.

ritish: (...) Just miss aithu - dammit! vatabig chunk of my childhood i have miss-sedd I say.

anon: heh heh good story :)

aladhamara: roadside borber is giving boffa? wah wat an 'ondraful I say. Will teach those fancy salons a thing or two Im sure.

10yearslate: 2004 maraya. aavaga nimma shriparichaya iddidre, bheti matra alla, ond jwaladhrotti mealsu kelthidde.

nidhi : essess me too :)

themartianscientist: aye what ma, it is my new amir khan look. Please see ghajini shirtless scene to see what I mean (barf barf)

carpediem: harumph :P

anon canon: blush blush thanks I say. Occupational hajard ma could not the help :( But hello, full stud boy I have drawn with small caterpillar dhadi on chin and all ok. what an 'ondrafully handsome it is - better than the real thing by far I think!

anon canon said...

gandhigiri, dharna etc for orijinaal picture...harumph!

Anonymous said...

yenri idhu?
me also agree with anon canon. pls to be placing it back.
Plz kindly oblige and adjust maadi to ur ardent fans...

~WV
froad

Prats said...

aiyyyyaaaa, what is this display picture???? yucku..

Anonymous said...

Remember reading ur bday's in december bd,

Happys birthdays.

if its over then, belated else, pls to keep informed.

WV
yetratin

RustyNeurons said...

Ohoho... yappy burthuday wa??? Great! Atleast for this post something new no???

Anu said...

GAH (in the style of the Goon of the Five Find Outers of the Enid Blyton)...

GAH - he's vanished again!

My word veri says droldsto

should be drolnomo

Kavitha said...

Happy Birthday BD. New haircut for bday? ;-)

Bikerdude said...

anons, pratsu: aiyo artha maadkobakery. it ees faar security reasonsu!

anon, rusty, kavitha: thanks (wo)men :)

anu: heh heh correct occasionally i will surface for air purpose.

The Psycho Blogger said...

hahahaha... i've been growing my hair long for the past one year now and though i like keeping it long, i sure miss those sunday visits to the barber's where i would just doze off in the chair.

Winnie the poohi said...

LMAO!!

I tell you curd is the best conditioner around :)

ceaselesscriticism said...

I was looking for some good hair stylists in Bangalore, where I will be coming for a day next week, and I happened to bump into this blog. Though I must admit that it did not help me one bit, it sure did make me laugh. I think I have seen your blog in a few blogrolls so far, but I had not checked it out so far. But I guess that is all going to change now. You have some pretty awesome stuff here. :-)

Mithilesh said...

Hey that was indeed...a trip down my memory lane...not sure any of that hair remains on my head thou...lol...wit visits to all those salons and more...
your sense of mix of cultures and language...makes the reading more interesting...
I dont write much...but liked to read something good once in a while..:)

Anonymous said...

Reading your blog for the first time,I enjoyed this one esp..I see the mix of regional languages and the love for Bangalore in your blog :)a very pleasant feel.
your blogs makes me miss my hometown..keep them coming!

-A

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