Philip Reeves works as a journalist in Delhi and after enduring the raucous noise from campaigners and the shouting of television news readers reporting on the recent Indian election he wondered: “Where do men go to get away from all this heat and noise?”
He found his answer at the local barbershop. As he watched he knew the customers were not there simply for the trim but the head rub, the neck rub and finally the chin rub. In the air-conditioned salon there was no yelling. Sometimes no one even speaks.
Fujairah and the UAE
The discovery of Philip Reeves in Delhi could so easily apply to men in Dibba or Dafta in the emirate of Fujairah.
Go past a barber shop any night and you’ll see men waiting and reading the daily paper in Malayalam. They usually don’t mind waiting as it is cool and quiet and there’s not much else to do when you’re on your own in Fujairah.
In the chair there’s the hair cut, the lathering, the shave and then the nasal trim.
With so many UAE barbers coming from Kerala no haircut is complete without a head massage using the Ayurvedic techniques (see video). [My barber gives a much more rigorous treatment than this guy in his demonstration]
At Dh15 for this whole treatment (more for those who like the steam treatment on the face) it is no wonder that expat men often visit their barber every fortnight and Emirati men every three to four days (when it’s time for a shave).
The pampering and the touch seem just as important as the cutting of the locks. As Philip Reeves concluded in the solace of the Delhi barber shop:
“Like cats in need of stroking these men have come here to be soothed and pampered.”
Philip Reeves, Escape from Reality: India’s Barbershops, NPR, 19 May 2009.
Dr Geoff Pound
Image: My barber in Fujairah and another hair-raising story about him.