The Indian barber belongs to the lower class. His duty is to serve the upper class. He is a very useful member of the society. We cannot ignore his service.
An old Indian barber is very simple. He puts on very poor, dirty and shabby clothes. He always keeps with him his small tin box which contains the implements of his trade. There are many oil stains on his clothes. His dress- a kurta, a turban or a cap and a dhoti, is always dirty. Generally he is seen without shoes.
Old and New Barbers:
Sometimes difference is made between the old and new barbers. The new barbers are better than the old one. He lives on neat and clean life. He puts on better clothes. His hairs are well-cut. He also knows few English words which he generally mispronounces. He runs his own shop while the old barber goes from door to door to shave people.
Description of His Ways and Habits:
The barber is a very talkative man. His tongue and scissors work together. His talk is full of interest. So it is never boring. Sometimes he tells his customers the names of medicines for the skin diseases. He always boasts of his skill of trade. You can get all sorts of information, social or political from him. He will tell you the cause of quarrel between husband and wife living in your neighborhood
His method of working is very strange. With a piece of cloth he covers the body of his customers. Then he cuts the hair with his machines, combs and scissors. He applies soap to the face and produces foam with the brush. He does so to wet hair thoroughly. Then he takes out his razor. First he sharpens it at a black stone piece and then on a leather strap. He begins to shave. While shaving he collects the hair mixed with soap upon his wrist. In the end he clears the face with clean water and applies the scented power and cream.
His Services towards the Society:
The barber is a very useful member of the society. He is a shaver, a hair and a messenger. His services are very important. In the old he sued to work as a surgeon. He carries the messages in the village and out of the village. For the Hindus his services are unforgettable at the time of birth, marriage and death. He does certain social duties for which he is paid then and there.
Whenever the guest comes in the village, he is called to serve him. He shampoos his body. He massages his head and he gives him a first rate bath. In the days gone by, he would settle the marriages. Even at present we cannot do without him on the occasions of marriages and death.
Massaging is an art. This art has been with the barber from time immemorial. Some barbers do not do other work except massaging their rich customers. But every barber does not know how to message.
His Importance at Present:
Now-a-days the barber is losing his importance. His activities are growing less and less. Now he cannot make or unmake the marriage. He is losing importance in the society. He is also changing his life.
The barber of today is well-awakened. He now knows his rights and privileges. He expects respect from the society. He can earn his living with ease. Like others he is also running after money.