When I visited Men’s saloon this Sunday!


Sundays are the best. Sit back and relax. Enjoy a late bed time tea/coffee. Begin with a matinee show at home. Munch away something without moving a bit! And then, perhaps postpone the bath time more. Until, you realize it is already late evening. And then, night approaches faster than sound! Once upon a time, that kind of schedule also appeared in my life’s timeline. Those days, I was just an ITian slogging away 6 days a week with no inkling of how the dawn moved so quickly towards dusk even as, debugging applications made me feel otherwise about time! Hence, those Sundays! Rather, those kind of Sundays.

Exactly 8 years later with a hubby and a kid, Sundays seem to be the most organized of all days. I have the most amazing schedule of early mornings of aromatic tea, followed by a nice breakfast of omelettes/poha/upma etc..and then, a luncheon outside, followed by a movie and then, some shopping followed by dinner. I also manage to complete dusting and cleaning chores on this day, 24 hours is indeed a copious amount of time that can be utilised perfectly. And, my Sundays usually end with preparing the son’s uniform for the next day while he polishes his shoes. (He will learn ironing later)

But this Sunday was meant to be different. Hubby is out for more than a month. So, son and I felt quite claustrophobic inside. After going through a few chapters of GK, we decided to go for a ride. The beautiful part about the place I live is, the Sunday market. Every Sunday, the market is loaded with fresh vegetables, fruits, spices and vessels that come from villages. And so, we did some fresh veggie shopping. On my way, I remembered that the son had to get a haircut too. So, once I was done with buying vegetables, I rode towards the fruit stall and, got some bananas and musk melons, the Summer quenchers! So, with a bag loaded with veggies and fruits, I headed towards the unisex saloon I usually visit. Now, this saloon happens to be the upper middle class kind where in you find men, women, teenagers from rich families who come to get pampered royally. Well, given that I came here once or twice a month for shaping eyebrows, the thought of getting my son’s haircut here sounded good. But then, I was wrong.

haircut

Sometimes, familiarity breeds contempt. No, let me correct. All the time.

I went there at 11 and by 11:30, my patience was running out with a few more men getting lined up near the couch. What irked me was the indifference and a bad attitude of the staff. After a wait of ten more minutes, I gave the owner a piece of my  mind on how they ought to treat customers better, especially women and moved out, not knowing where I could go next. Then, I called up the hubby and asked him if there was an alternative and, he paused for a while. And then, he replied – “See, there is a small barber shop near by. Quite crowded. If you are comfortable, only if you are comfortable taking him there, go. Else, I will arrange for someone to take Arjun for the hair cut.”

I mumbled an OK and, went searching for the said shop. It was located on a busy street near a snack stall. Needless to say, the area was swarming with men and men alone. And, a lot of loud music blaring from a near by shop. I saw the shop and, realized two things:

One, the shop was crowded. Rather, overcrowded.

And Two, – EUREKA! It was a Sunday!

As I stood outside, contemplating on whether I should enter that moderately big shop filled with men of all sizes at various stages of hair dressing, the son immediately quipped – “Mum, let’s go inside. I know the shop. That uncle has cut my hair twice. Dad has got me here before.”

And, my feisty little mischief package had already entered the shop while I stopped myself at the doorstep. While my son returned to pull me inside, I blurted – “Hey! You go and get the haircut. I may not be allowed inside.” Immediately, I saw a man walking towards me and, he calmly said – “Ma’am, aap andar aake baith jaiye. Koi dikkat nahi!” (Ma’am, please come inside. You can sit here. No issues!)

Suddenly, I was at ease. As I entered, the few men sitting on the couch vacated their seat for me. Later, a lady also joined me as she had come for her son’s hair cut. She is the same lady who had been standing on the other side of the road with her son. I had seen her then but was not aware she had come for the same purpose here. She later initiated the conversation and mentioned, how she had to bring the son for the hair cut in absence of the hubby. The entire waiting and cutting session took only 5 minutes and, I was happy paying the nominal 40 rupees for it! Besides, while leaving, the owner asked me if I was satisfied with the cut. Well, quite!

The Sunday went smoothly. Well spent, as well. But, it taught me something –

Sometimes, you have to take the first step to ask questions. I had never entered a man’s saloon after my 2nd grade. Till the age of 8, my dad used to take me to his barber to get my hair cut too – a bob cut actually! But then, when mum wanted me to have long hair, my visits were cut down only to parlors for women. And at 32, I suddenly felt awkward to enter a man’s saloon. I wonder, why? Maybe, social conditioning made me feel uneasy. But this visit brought down that facade of unease.

We are all social media addicts and, ardent readers of news. Each day, we read incidents of crimes on women and children. Although, we go on with our normal lives, somewhere deep down within, a seed of fear is planted. Fear of people’s unknown intentions. Honestly, I too have my share of fears. When a negative incident happens in the world, we immediately become judgmental. We do not feel like entering unknown zones. We question the safety of such places. We start viewing everything with a doubt. We question everyone’s intentions beforehand. Sometimes, we are even doubtful of asking the questions when they must be asked. Well, we almost start believing in things that may never really happen.

But then, there are places as these that may appear dingy and even, dirty from outside but, are not really unsafe. After all, the entire world is not demented. There are many good men out there too – Men who respect women they do not know, men who understand the hesitations of women wanting to get a work done but are unable to because they are uncomfortable in a particular space, men who help women feel safe.

When I came back and told hubby about this, he was quite surprised and, needless to say – proud! I remember what he tells me every now and then – “See! The world may not be good all the time. But then, that does not mean you have to be scared all the time. Evil always breeds on fear. So, even if you are scared, never show it. Strut around like a lioness even if you feel like a fawn within! That is the key.”

As for this visit, I know this was just the first of the many that shall follow. After all, I am a faujan! And faujans play the role of mother and father both, when the soldiers are away on duty!

“A first time is always special. And when it happens, we are already half way through the tasks we thought would never do!”

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