City Landmark - Anwar’s Shaving Salon, Near Gole Market

City Landmark – Anwar’s Shaving Salon, Near Gole Market

Hajamat arbour.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Found. A serene impressionistic haven to get a haircut—or a hajamat (shave) if you will. Anwar’s pavement stall beside central Delhi’s Gole Market is austere. Some might though label it among the most luxurious in the entire Delhi region. For it stands under an unusually luscious banyan tree, attached to the trunk like a limpet.

Truth be told, our Delhi region is rich with luscious banyans. The one at Khan Market’s backside is as graceful as any Lodhi-era monument, its massive foliage harbouring more than one pavement kiosk. A stately banyan sheds its cathartic shade at Gurugram railway station’s platform 2-3. Another noteworthy banyan held court at an A Block plaza in Connaught Place, outside a fancy coffee chain outlet; it fell down following a storm two years back.

Indeed, each banyan is colossal in its own way. But this banyan at the turning of Lal Bahadur Sadan Lane is gander than many of its cousins. The tree consists of separate trunks welded together. Its higher altitude is so dense with leaves that right now the jungle up there is not letting the sunny daylight penetrate. The tree becomes extra-special because of its pivotal role in a citizen’s daily life. A native of the holy town of Ayodhya, Anwar used to work in a clothes showroom in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk. He lost the job during the peak Covid years, and sought refuge in his family’s traditional profession. “My dada used to do hair-cutting and shaving, my papa does it too, so this work flows in my blood.” He set up his stall three years ago on this spot because “the area teems with potential customers, and I also live close.”

Idle for the moment, Anwar is watching the sluggish traffic on the road. His back is turned towards his stall’s mirror, clamped on the banyan’s trunk. The table underneath the mirror is cluttered with shaving foam tubes,, shaving brushes, combs, scissors, blades and electric razors. Boxes of Nisha hair colour are stacked along a separate slab.

Soon, a customer arrives for a shave, wordlessly sitting down on the tree-facing seat. Anwar places a blue towel about the man’s neck.