100 Days in India Project

Haircut Boys in Varanasi India

6/ 100 Haircut Boys

From what we saw on our journeys around India, the men there are obsessed with their hair, and they didn’t waste an opportunity to comb and style it to perfection. It didn’t seem that any self-respecting young man would head out into the dusty streets without a comb and an ample covering of grease.

Any of the million or so available scooter mirrors were apparently a good place to check on the status of your shiny hairstyle. One day we sat down to enjoy a little breakfast uttapam at a small cafe. Next to our table, which was essentially on the road, there was a scooter with much larger mirrors  that the others and barely a chap was able to walk by without a quick peek at their reflection.

Fixing your hair with a comb was one thing, but on the ancient stone ghats in Varanasi there are a few open air barbers for when a more robust approach to hair control was needed. These were not anything like a barbershop here at home. Most of them composed of just three things — a mirror on a wall, a rickety old stool (at least 450 years old) and a large shelf laden with every single hair product ever made.

Around these most basic of  hair salons there was always a gathering of young lads who always had the most impressive hair of all. Perhaps they were tolerated because they were good advertising?  Even when a customer was perched on the stool getting spruced up in public these guys would think nothing of helping themselves to some grease and a few seconds in the mirror to get their hair to stand just that little bit higher.