Army Barber

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The wife said,

"Tumne paddhney to hain nahi,newspaper band karwa do-As it is you are not going to read these newspapers,might as well stop them."

She looked at the cigar like rolled up papers lying on the black box diwan in the balcony.She picked up one paper and read out,

"Rs 6/- So many rupees six worth of papers lying about.That it Rs 180/- per month.Its a waste."

The noble desire to keep abreast with the happenings of the world  has waxed and waned over the years.The world has remained as it was,only the military mule is growing old.These days it's competing with the reading of a biography of PG Wodehouse by Robert Mc Crum and James Herriot's Every Living Thing.Literature is pushing the good old Indian Express in the pending slot.I have to do some quick thinking,like a cadet does in front of a growling sargeant asking for his I slip.

The wife is a great fusser about.I make a show of opening a newspaper.She is domestic minded and never admits defeat to dust .She potters about her plants and plans the daily orchestra of the washing machine.Then the planning of food and victuals and the ceaseless round of the day.

I pick up a handful of news papers and stuff them in my sling bag.A hair cut is long over due and I have been thinking of going to the barber shop.I drive to the small fauji bazaar in the station.Its called,"Suvidha Kendra"I wonder why a compound name like "Convenience Centre" is allotted to a good old bazaar.We have adopted American ways.They call a pavement a side walk.Modern trends are funny.I have lived to see a cantonment called a military station.They say a military station is a cantonment with a wall and gates.But wasn't that supposed to be a fort.I have seen Batman called a buddy.A sepoy called an Agniveer.A field ambulance called a field hospital,a car or a jeep called a light vehicle.This is a fascinating hobby,the observation of linguistic trends.

As I swing the door of the barber shop,Ram sen the barber is sprawled out on a barber chair and getting his hair and beard dyed by one of his scrawny underlings.On the tv above the mirrors of the shop a Sunil Shetty movie is playing,and a long haired Sunil Shetty is punching the hell out of a score of villains.He too needs a haircut I think.I sit and open a newspaper.I have  plenty of time.My eyes home on to an article on Mughal Gardens being renamed as Nectar Garden.

An army man(that's what a good old soldier,sepoy or jawan is called these days) is lying redolent on a barber chair.One of Ram sen's apprentice is running the clipper on the sides of the man's head.I open the paper and read Narayani Gupta's article and glance up.Ram sen who usually cuts my hair is allowing the hair dye to soak in.The army man's hair is almost done.He gets up and takes his face very close to the wall mirrors.He is wearing a Rajput Regiment white T shirt.On the left side is the crossed katar crest of the Rajput Regiment.I know the station has a battalion of Rajput Regiment.He stares at his face and lifts his fingers and tries to coomb the short hair of his crew cut temple.Ram Sen's apprentice barber has really given the army man's scalp the grind stone treatment.He yells,

"Hayy,Mera ball kaisa kaata-how have you cut my hair."

This army man looks like he is from Maharashtra and his way of talking has a Marathi touch.But he is from the Rajput Regiment.He is perturbed about his hair.Another Havildar enters in olive green ITs.He has put on a hackled berret of Rajput Regiment.He tells Ram Sen.

"Saab ke baal kaatne chalo- come to cut sahibs hair."

Ram sen is now washing his beard in a wash basin.A Special Forces army man enters the barber shop.He is wearing khakhi suede leather boots and keeps a beard.He sits on a chair and takes out his mobile phone.I think a special forces army man used tobe called a commando when I joined the army.

In the telivision,a scene with Tom Alter is now playing,he is saying to a bad character,

"Tumharey jaisey kayi kutton ki poonch mainey seedhi ki hai-I have straightened out the tail of many dogs like you."

Now where have those great script writers of Bollywood gone.The sheer bonanza of hearing the dialogues of those days is missing from present day cinema.

The marattha army man of the Rajput regiment t shirt is still muttering,

"Heyy,Mera Baal kharab karr diya."By his tone he seems tobe making up his mind whether to quarrel or not.

I return to the newspaper article about naamkaran  of Moghul Gardens.Evidently the the author has been walking the streets of Delhi since the 1950's.The article is okay okay.

Having read the memoirs of Edwin Lutyens by his daughter Mary Lutyens,I learnt that the ground on which the Moghul Gardens stand belonged to Raisina village and Malcha village.Lands of Haryanvi agriculturists who were evicted by bringing in artillery canons to fire and raise the villages to the ground.The threat of a massacre made them vacate the land.Another interesting fact I read was that New Delhi was made at the cost of just one battleship of the British Empire.

The hackle wearing Havildar,sorry army man again enters the barber shop.

"How much more time?"

Ram Sen says,

"It will take some time."

What I see is the absolute lack of urgency or stress in the three subjects in the barber shop.The special forces army man is watching his mobile phone.The mahrattha army man of the Rajput Regiment is still scowling at his face and insisting that his hairstyle has been ruined.The hackled Havildar is sitting in a safari outside.All seems tobe well in the world and an army man comes with a little boy.

"Hish ko katora cut de do- Please give my boy a crew cut."

Ahh,the sound of Hish.This fellow has tobe from Garhwal Rifles.I raise my eyes from the newspaper.But he is also wearing a Rajput Regiment T shirt.I scratch my head.What has the world come to.

In the tv Sunil Shetty appears with a hair cut but this time he has forgotten to wear his shirt.He is pummeling the goons with a chest bristling with hair like the good old black barrack blanket.Now even that has gone out of fashion.

Ram Sen is finally ,dyed and renewed,looking like a freshly painted  black trunk of fauji people ready for adm inspection.

In television set,after beating about 2000 people to pulp,Sunil Shetty is marring his love interest,and he has also taken a haircut.

Mr Ram Sen says,

"Aaiyey,apke baal kaat te hain-Come I will cut your hair."

Xxx Xxx

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