Straight from the Soul of my Heart
Part - I

By Pangamba777 *

Some days back, I went to an upscale gents parlor -- somewhere in Mumbai -- to dress my hair. I am an on-and-off kind of customer there. I go there not frequently; there's always two to three months gap in between. So the hairdressers there know me, if not by my name or where I come from, but by my looks at least.

As I became uncomfortable with my long hair, I knew it was time for a cut. So I went there.

I saw the same guys, mostly young guys, I guess maybe in their mid 20s, whatever -- but they were all jovial, professionally attired. Smiling faces, welcoming hands, good ambience. I liked it.

'I am at the right place for a haircut,' I told myself. But I sensed deep down inside my heart, it was going to be different. And I did not know why.

It was Saturday. Usually I go there on Sunday, but as Sunday is a busy day for the parlor, I usually have to wait for a long time until I get my turn. I hate long queues.

I wonder sometimes if other people have this feeling of irritation about standing or waiting in long queues -- like I do. In a metro city like Mumbai, where an estimated 15 million people live, it's the norm of the day. And in this fast-paced life it's hugely irritating to wait in a long queue.

So I decided to go on Saturday this time thinking that there might be less 'customers'.

As expected, there were less 'customers', so I didn't have to wait for long. And very soon, came my turn. And the session was about to start. My hairdresser was friendly, wearing a professionally coded smile. He looked senior in age and experience.

He signalled to me and indicated to the high-heeled chair. Without a word. And I knew what he meant. So I moved towards the high-heeled chair and sat there facing my face towards the large mirror that's well spread across the wall.

My hairdresser started.

'Which style would you prefer to have your hair cut, sir?' and continued a moment later, 'Shah Rukh, Salman, or Hrithik type cut?' The usual first question any hairdresser would ask anyone before any session begins. But the latter part I didn't like and I got irritated, but I tried my best not to show it on my face.

By nature, I don't like imitating and that's what I am. I want to be myself in my own way and style. And I thought to myself, why should I imitate others when I can be myself. So neither did I like theirs' the Bollywood biggies.

'I just want a short-cut style'. I told my hairdresser concealing my irritation, and without specifying what a short-cut style was. I wanted to keep my conversation to the minimum. And I couldn't think of any name I could give to this style.

Just a short-cut style. And it could be anything to him. So I saw he was confused a bit. He thought for a while. Maybe he was thinking what kind of style he wanted to cut my hair. You know the world is looking for styles and it thinks in terms of styles too.

Whatever. Anyway I let him think what kind of style would suit me the best. I don't care how I look like but I care about a good haircut. I don't know what that is. After a few moments, he began with his machines, scissors and comb thing.

It was the longest hair cut I've had in many years. Maybe because there were less customers that day or maybe he was trying to impress me with his skills in the trade. I let him go on without a stop as I had nothing to attend to.

I didn't go out for movies, [that I usually do on weekends] as no 'good releases' were released that weekend. But I had to send an email to a friend of mine but I thought it'd be a good idea to write it later in the night. That's when my thinking engine works the best.

During most part of the whole session, my thoughts were somewhere else, only my body was present there. And soon I came to know I was daydreaming about something else. Suddenly, I was jolted back from my reverie, when my hairdresser said with a satisfied smile on his face.

'How are you feeling, sir? Is this all right?' And he placed a mirror on my back to let me see my back portion.

I saw what was in the large mirror in front of me. And I was satisfied -- as he was. And I felt good.

'All right. It's real fine,' and after a moment I added at last, 'Thank you very much for the fine cut. I like it.' And it was genuine.

Suddenly, he was taken aback surprised. It seemed to me from his looks that, maybe, nobody said those two magic words to him a long time, I guess. But I think I need to thank anyone who has done something good for me. That's what I always do.

Then he looked straight into my eyes intently, maybe searching something inside my eyes, or maybe trying to find something inside there. And a moment later he spoke.

'Are you from Assam?'

I got irritated this time again, by this familiar question I have had for many years. I am sure you might have had the same experience at some point or the other if you're a NRM (Non-Resident Manipuri staying within India).

To be continued...

* Pangamba777( a resident of Mumbai) writes regularly to . You can contact the writer at pangamba777(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)in . This article was webcasted on December 03, 2008.

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