The Barber Shop

The barber shop is a reflection of human transaction and behavior along with the usual hair treatment . A typical scene of the shop portrays three barbers working hastily on three customers. The three customers are a child of about 2 years old, a young man in his late teens and a middle aged guy with a moustache. Other people who are waiting for their turns a guy with spectacles in his early thirties, myself and two young girls of around 8 and 4 years of age, daughters of the moustache guy.  

Let’s take each character one by one. The child in the hot seat seems to take it literally and is crying as hard as he can, not because it hurts but because crying seems to be the only response to such an inhumane treatment. His parents and the barber are trying everything to calm him down and make him keep his head still. He responds to songs and colorful objects but only for a few moments before the scissor cuts off a few hair and he feels more insecure and helpless. I believe a child in a barber shops faces the most intriguing dilemma, he has the natural tendency of finding comfort and safety in his parents’ arms whenever there is danger but here his parents are the ones letting him be attacked. He is struggling between  his tendency to clutch on to his parents in fear and the tendency to counter attack anyone  who trespasses his personal boundaries. He does not understand it so he uses his first discovered emotion and act of crying. It is very appreciable, his endless effort to free himself; an adult would probably succumb to fate under such emotional, mental and physical pressure. At last the 15 minutes pass and the world becomes normal again, freedom is  granted again  and the parents  seem to be  more sympathizing now. Here comes another boy of  around the same age, his parents had been looking intently the whole time to prepare themselves for the same procedure. The new boy is  unaware of  the near future; he sits down in the chair easily before realizing  that something is wrong! Its too late, the procedure  has already started. The more experienced boy now sits in his mother’s lap while his father ‘pays the price’. His red nose is the only sign that he was crying a little while ago, he sits and looks at the new boy with a sense of achievement and a ‘been there done that’ attitude. The parents exchange smiles that say ‘Part of life, isn’t it?’  

The young teenager isn’t interested in anything except maybe the television. His ‘too cool’ hair don’t need to be cut or treated, he is just here for a facial. He is probably thinking about his friends or some cricket match because the kids and the barber’s unimpressive singing don’t seem to catch his attention. He just waits eternally for the barber to remove the crème from his face.  

The moustache guy is keeping an eye on his daughters but doesn’t seem to want to do that. He seems to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere where he can be negligent of his responsibilities for a while. More interesting than him are his daughters; the younger one is very jubilant while the older one wants to have the upper hand for a change. I wondered what drove her into being the elder sister and not just a playful sibling. The answer was not far away; the guy’s cell phone rang. The older daughter suddenly became the child again and asked if she could pick it up, the reply was a stern ‘NO’. The hush was enough for her to be quiet for the next few minutes. The younger sibling though kept trying to get her attention; she kept talking to her or throwing things at her but in vain. Even though she wants to play too but she has to keep her distance right now to keep her value in place and to let her sister know that she isn’t easy; that’s what she has learned people should do. The attitude of both the girls is an indication of two things. A child above 5 years of age learns from her elders how to be an elder, a younger child only knows the basics of human nature; attention is her requirement, joy is her gift.  

The waiting guy is probably on job because he is very interested in the newspaper like he hasn’t read the news for ages. Oblivious to the havoc created by the children, he reads on but gives the clock a glance every few minutes. His way of sitting and façade tells that he is going through life too steadily to be interested in anything apart from his routine.  

The whole scene is very normal and most people would say that there is nothing special about it. I saw the people closely and noticed how they act and react and combining that with they body language and appearance I was able to peek into their minds and their lives. Life reveals itself not just through miracles but also through the most usual situations.


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