during childhood days at madras or madurai, the cut was always a summer cut, a 10 minute comb-scissor play of "snip, snip, snip", and i was released from the throne.
the longest part of the sunday ritual was the wait to ascend the throne. this wait sometimes could be up to an hour, but was painless as the time was well spent glancing dailies and weeklies - "dina malar, dina thanthi, saavi, kumudham, anandha vikatan", listening to 60s/70s tamil hit songs on the grandpa-radio, and the repartee that ensued amongst the sunday idlers.
every customer, acquaintance or stranger, was welcomed with "annae, vaanga annae (brother, welcome brother)", by the barber/s. "ukkarunga (please sit!). edho pathu nimisham (just 10 minutes)".
the just arrived customer joins the bench of customers, some probably doing their third just-10-minutes wait. the bench eventually starts discussing movies, roads, water supply problems, news, sports, what-not, and of course politics.
like time, the plank on the wall that says, "arasiyal pesadheergal! (please don't discuss politics)", is not respected.
at the end of the entertaining & g.k. enriching wait and the hair cut, a mere ten rupee note exchanged hands.
in the US, there is no wait to get to the not-so-royal-throne. and i am required to give specifications for the cut with numbers- "3 on the side, 4 on top".
"swoosh, swoosh", and within a span of 4 minutes a clean job is done. fifteen dollars leaves the wallet.
the other day, i decided to break the convention.
"hi! can you please use scissors ?" as not much of the black substance was left on the top, i added, "just cut a little from the sides, and leave the rest in tact".
my barber started scissoring very slowly. he went on-and-on, artistically. i felt as if I had asked a maths phd to recite the multiplication tables.
after about one hour of effort, and a little over a small amount of strands cut, the customary, "how does it look"- look was given to me. the work was neat, very neat indeed.
i heartily thanked him, pitied and tipped him heavy.