There’s a reason for the glow on the Chitrakooti male specie – A brand new men’s only salon.
Yahaan shaadi-vivaah ke shubh avsar par dulhe sajaye jaate hain.
(Grooms are decked up here, for their big day!)
Thus reads the signage atop a one-room affair, a short walk down from the Mau kasbah bus stop in Mau, Chitrakoot.
At the New Ahad Men’s Parlour, Bhim and Vivek are busy. They’re in the middle of their facial, and ask us to wait for a little while to deliver their important bytes. They’ve been eyeing our camera after all, and know that the beauty routine will enhance the effect of their interviews.
They’re regular customers, we learn – having started out with the usual “daadi banwana (shaving)” under the tree routine to going all-in with the hip pedicure trends of the day. Vivek comes twice a month and goes for his usual package, “There are other options also, but they work very professionally here. So naturally, I come here.”
Suman, the owner of New Ahad, not 30 yet himself, used to work in Bangalore, he tells us, and brings to the kasbah his big city creds – the reasons for his professional demeanour too, everyone insists. Suman inherited the shop from his father who used to run a basic “cutting” space, and upped the services on offer, with an eye on the new business of an all-new male vanity, gaining momentum even in the hinterland. A rattling off of his clientele is a case in point, which includes “children, college students, and many young boys and men coming in from the villages also”.
“Thoda daana-vaana kam aate hain yeh karwane se (Skin allergies and pimples are reduced due to the skin treatments),” says Vivek, while Bhim says that it lends his face a glow – “raunak”. “Also, it lasts, the freshness”, he adds.
Besides the face, the hair is where the action is, Suman shares. “Kai prakaar ke cutting chal rahe hain (There are so many hairstyles that are trending).” He points at the banner outside his shop helpfully, to illustrate his point, listing some of the styles, citing among them “Honey Singh cutting, spicy cutting” as two of the most popular ones.
Suman does most of the special treatments himself, and has a few errand boys who fetch products, chai, and then some. As he plugs the face-scrubbing and toning machine to attend to a waiting customer, we notice Bhim performing his own version of ‘But first! Let me take a selfie!’
– Pooja Pande
This Khabar Lahariya article first appeared on Firstpost.