City Landmark – New Bharat Hair Dresser, Khan Market
The market story.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Muse, let’s again sing of the tony Khan Market. The fashionable front lane has a foreign-origin confectionary; something like the Haldiram of Paris. It opened during the pandemic, and by now seems so rooted to the posh soil-soul of the market that it is difficult to recall the showroom that formerly stood on its site.
Similarly, on the market’s cobbled back lane stands a high-end boutique. It is a recent landmark. What had stood before there? Well, why don’t you try plucking out the right answer from this list of lost Khan Market landmarks, which live only in memories—Sovereign Dairies, Raj Sweet Shop, Empire Stores, Caryhom Ice Cream, Modern Hair Dressers, Pat a Cake, The Music Shop, The Book Shop, Dr Verma’s Clinic, Pindi Crockery House, Bharat Hair Dresser, Grand Bazar Departmental Store, Bengal Sweets, Alfina Restaurant, Times Book Gallery, Tharia Ram & Sons bookstore, Dr Sharma’s Clinic, Dev Metal Emporium, and the list goes on!
Friends, today we gather here to mark the passing of Bharat Hair Dresser. It quietly dropped into history-bin in late March this year. The reasons are too complicated to explain in this little space, but the gist of the tale is that an integral part of Khan Market went extinct.
The salon opened in 1952, shortly after the setting up of market, which remained a cozy neighborhood bazar until the 1990s when it transformed into a deluxe shopping destination. Bharat Hair Dresser continued to retain the character of a shop-around-the-corner. Until some years ago the price for a shave was 80 rupees—dirt cheap as per the Khan Market economy. It doubled to 160 rupees by the time it closed—still less than the price of a carrot cake in the next-door bakery.
Founder Prahlad Ram’s portrait graced the salon’s wall. Years back, his younger son Kashi Ram lauded the shop’s landlords who hadn’t raised the rent despite the market’s super-fast gentrification. He was also grateful to the salon’s hardcore loyalists. Many of those customers lived in the nearby government colonies. Some were so faithful that although they moved post-retirement to distant Gurugram and Noida, they would come here for the haircut.
Anyways, a salon opened last month on the outermost fringe of Khan Market, across the road from gate no. 4 of Khan Market metro station. One of its personnels include hairstylist Dev Krishna Thakur, aka Wakil, a Bharat Hair Dresser staffer for 30 years. The new place is called New Bharat Hair Dresser. See photo.