Its a small barber shop in one of the oldest localities in Mysore. And my regular haircut saloon for the last two decades. As I went there for a hair cut, the main barber salutes with his usual exclamation "Saar". He has 3 other co-barbers who are employed there from a long time (no attrition here sir!). "Your father and brother are not seen nowadays?", he asks me concerned about the reducing business from my family. "Oh is it?" I mumble, not sure what to say. "What?" the co-barber asks him. "Vallu thammudu...", he translates my incoherent answer into a weird combination of telugu mixed with kannada. I just say "Medium, comb-able (not too short)" Too easy, he has done that for years!
I just wondered how this place looked in the 80s. Quite unsurprisingly, its exactly the same. Two huge mirrors placed on either walls, parallel to each other. It was almost like magic for me when I had first visited that shop as a kid. Reflection in one mirror, acted as the image for the other mirror, and recursively, there are multiple images. I used to wonder how many images can exist like this. It was during my PU, I learnt the formula to realize that with 180 degree separation, the number of images is infinite!
There is an old portrait of Mysore Maharaja, which shows the obvious respect he has for the king (lot of old timers still consider him as their master!) There are 2 or 3 photos of his deceased elders (no, these are the places which dont think that such photos ruin the ambience) The usual board on the wall that says "Olaga players available for marriages, upanayanas and other auspicious functions" (Traditionally, the barbers are experts at playing Olaga - a type of wind instruments used during traditional marriages in Karnataka)
An old radio playing a very very AM channel. The ad aired is for some computer institute - which is a conversation between two people.
"Sunil, what are you doing after college?"
"Oh, then why dont you join blah-blah-blah institute for hardware and networking course?"
"Whats the use of that?"
"You not only get good training, but there is an assured job placement"
"Oh is it, thank you very much. I will join today itself"
The advertisement is so 70s, that it makes "Washing Powder Nirma" and "Vicks Action 500" look ultra-modern. A few local guys keep visiting the place, updating the barber on the happenings in their lives, lost friendships, loan dealings and local politics. He listens to their stories without any boredom, hums along line by line to the radio song, while performing his craft with scissors. No matter how ordinary a person is, parallel processing comes very naturally to Indians.
He is done with the hair cut and I ask him, "How much?" - partly because I was not sure how much I had paid last time and expecting a probable price change. "You give saar", he tells - he is still from those old days where quoting the price explicitly was considered greedy and rude. I remember and give him the same amount I had given last time. Yes, the price has not changed. So he is. You may say that India is changing and changing fast. But, some places just remain as they are, probably to show us what India was a long time ago.