City Hangout – Sajid’s Hair-Cutting Salon, Ballimaran
Best barber shop.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Is there anything to say about the Walled City that hasn’t already been said?
Though the area thrives on pure chaos, you can always find a small space offering sweet respite, perhaps even tranquillity.
The other night, The Delhi Walla stumbled upon something just like that at a barber’s shop.
You may think I’m a hopeless romantic overwhelmed by every stall under a tree. But I’m talking of an establishment located extraordinarily at the intersection of Galli Mahal Sari and Gali Patna Wali in Ballimaran, the neighbourhood where poet Ghalib lived more than a century ago.
This open-air shop doesn’t have a name (doesn’t need one), but boasts of three impressive salon chairs along with imposing mirrors set in golden frames — all under a tarp shielding patrons from rain and shine.
This establishment is simply known as Nai ki Dukan, or the barber shop. It started some 60 years ago by a migrant from Meerut, and his grandson now does the honours.
“I’m the badshah of my parlour!” declares young Sajid, still serving customers late at night. Sajid treats me to sweet milky chai but flatly refuses to be photographed. “But, please, do snap the parlour.” He lets me sit on one of the empty salon chairs (known locally as ‘Amreekan kursi’).
Within earshot are locals hovering nearby, gossiping about film stars and politicians. I hear footsteps of people long before they appear, and these haunting sounds continue to echo even when those men have walked into other lanes and alleys.
Most shops are closed by this hour but Sajid’s workday isn’t quite over. He’ll walk home around midnight and return at 10 the next morning.
Dial S for Sajid