Tamil Nadu

A Thoothukudi salon catches the PM’s eye

For his customers of Millerpuram in Thoothukudi, hairdresser Pon Mariappan’s passion for books is well known. His salon is equipped not just with hair-dressing equipment but also a mini-library to encourage clients to read a book until their turn comes.

For his customers, his small but neatly maintained salon even during the pandemic is a ‘temple of knowledge’, where the portraits of gods and goddesses share space with photographs of icons like Thiruvalluvar, Mahatma Gandhi, Vivekananda, Bharati and Abdul Kalam.

Watch | This Tamil Nadu barber runs a library inside his salon

And his message on the importance of books and reading attracted national attention last Sunday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to an elated Mr. Mariappan during his latest national radio ‘Man ki baat’ after hearing about his hairdresser’s library.

Though Pon Mariappan could not continue his studies after Class 8, his tenure as the clerk of an advocate brought home to him the importance of reading. After he started his hairdressing unit at Millerpuram a few years ago, Mr. Mariappan was pained to see his customers indulging in pointless small talk while waiting their turn. The situation, he says worsened with the advent of smartphones and social media.


“So, I set up the library in my salon having experienced the benefits of reading. After the library became a part of my workplace, absolute silence prevails here as the visitors get involved in a book while waiting. When the waiting customers sit idle without reading anything, lectures of Sukhi Sivam, Nellai Kannan, Thamizharvui Manian, Parveen Sultana, mostly on positive thinking, literature, Thirukkural etc. is played to get them engrossed instead of allowing them to discuss ‘rubbish’,” Mr. Mariappan says.

Once the hairdressing is done, customers are requested to record thier opinions on the books they read. “The valuable opinions of my customers encourage me to add more books on diverse topics,” he says.

When Mr. Modi greeted him in Tamil saying “Vanakkam… Nallaa Irukkengala?” and asked him about the reason behind his creating a library in the salon, Mr. Mariappan was on cloud nine as he could voice his views on the importance of reading to an national audience. He also told the Prime Minister during the brief conversation that Thirukkural was close to his heart always.

“The wishes I could get from the Prime Minister is something special,” he said.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 2:07:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/a-thoothukudi-salon-catches-the-pms-eye/article32948498.ece

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