[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The old Khan Market exists in memories alone.
Sovereign Dairies has closed. Raj Sweet Shop has closed. Empire Stores has closed. Caryhom Ice Cream has closed. Modern Hair Dressers has closed. Pat a Cake has closed. The Music Shop has closed. The Book Shop has closed. Bharat Hair Dresser has not closed.
This salon opened in 1952, a year after the setting up of Khan Market, which remained a cheap neighborhood bazaar until the 1990s when it transformed into a high-end shopping destination.
Like the last man standing in the wake of a nuclear holocaust, Bharat Hair Dresser continues to retain the character of a shop-around-the-corner. The Hindi-speaking barbers gossip about the morning headlines and the price for a shave is eighty rupees – you’ll pay more for a glass of orange juice in the adjacent Big Chill restaurant.
Prahlad Ram, a migrant from Haryana, founded the shop; his portrait hangs on the wall. His younger son, Kashi Ram, says, “So much has changed in Khan Market. The rented space on which our shop stands has seen four owners. Not one of them raised the rent. We are also lucky to have a constant stream of clients – many of them live in the surrounding government colonies. Some of our customers are so faithful that although they retired years ago and moved to Gurgaon, Noida and other faraway places, they still come to us for haircuts.”
In Khan Market today there is new wealth and new crowd. As rents soar, more old timers will vanish, and more familiar storefronts will disappear.
Can Bharat Hair Dresser survive as a small business establishment?
Before the inevitable happens, come here to get your chest hair shaved – for 100 rupees only.
Where Shop No. 69 B, Khan Market Nearest Metro Station Khan Market Time Tuesday closed
Not yet closed