SEARCH

Metroplus » Society

Updated: February 19, 2014 18:41 IST

I am… G. Velayudhan, Barber

Liza George
Comment   ·   print   ·   T  T  
G. Velayudhan. Photo: Liza George
The Hindu G. Velayudhan. Photo: Liza George

My father, Gopalan, did not have the monetary means to let me pursue an education. So at the age of 11, I dropped out of school, and started apprenticing as a barber at my uncle, Krishnan’s shop at Ennikkara. My job then was to clean the floors, open doors for customers, sharpen the shaving knives, lather the customers faces for a shave… As there was no electricity in and around that area in those days, work was from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After a few years with my uncle, I started training under Shankaran, a barber at Vellayambalam.

It was an acquaintance of mine, Peter Albert who told me that there was a shop available for rent at Kowdiar. As there were no other barber shops around that area then, I decided to set up shop. In fact, ours was the only row of shops on that street. The rent then was Rs. 15, now I pay Rs. 4,000 a month.

My clientele was and still is varied. I have customers right from ministers and bureaucrats to white collared and blue collared workers. I remember getting a call from South Park one day. They wanted me to come over as there was a client who wanted the service of a barber. I reached the hotel and went to the room only to find Dhirubhai Ambani. After giving him a shave, he asked me how much I charged. I didn’t know what to say. A shave those days was only Rs. 2. I asked him to give me what he wanted. He gave me Rs. 100 and asked if I was satisfied. I said I was extremely satisfied.

I am one of the few barbers who do house visits. Back then, the elite never visited barber shops. Most of my visits were to the houses of politicians. I still do house visits, albeit a few.

Most of my customers are regulars. They are like friends and when they come over we discuss politics, we gossip…Some bring in their children for a cut as it is cheaper than most beauty parlours that have sprung up. I leave the hair cutting of children to my assistant as I am 75 and my eyes are starting to fail me.

And yes, these beauty parlours with their air-conditioning, plush seats and the like have created a dent in my income. As I am getting old, I now go home for lunch and leave the closing of the shop to my assistant. I go home, have a relaxed meal with my wife, Saraswathy, watch a bit of television, take a nap… My house is at Karakulam. Earlier I used to cycle to work. With traffic getting chaotic by the day, I now take the bus.

My four children are now settled in life so I can afford to take it a bit easy. There are rumours that the shop is up for sale. Once it is sold, I intend to quit the profession and relax.

(A weekly column on men and women who make Thiruvananthapuram what it is)

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Devaraja Mudali Street in George Town packs in a vast variety of merchandise, and some unusual history to boot »


O
P
E
N

close

Recent Article in Society

Murugavel educating kids about the city's ecospots

A peek at Chennai’s ‘living’ heritage

The city may seem like a concrete jungle, but it does boast of quite a few natural ecosystems that sustain a variety of flora and fauna »