Barbers are influential people and they are repository of knowledge, though it should have been obvious to me, it never was until today, thanks to my poor observation skills which are legendary amongst my friends.
Barbers are the only people who can operate a knife to your throat and get paid for doing a good job. If we missed the power of knife they hold, we were constantly reminded about Barbers influence through the numerous stories we have read in our childhood. Think of the stories of “Akbar” where we see how the Royal Barber convinces the Emperor to light his favourite minister “Birbal” in a pyre, or how the King’s Barber of King “Krishnadeva Raya” got close to becoming a minister in the royal Courtroom.
All these thoughts came flooding to me as I got up after a two hour facial and hair-cut session with my hairdresser (the modern word for Barbers) Mr.P. He was talking to me about Pigeons racing in Chennai, how difficult it is, at the same time it was popular and lucrative. It seems in his house in K.K.Nagar,Chennai his brother was rearing close to 80 pigeons at any point in time. The birds are kept as love pairs in each cage, they are fed healthy diet of Rice, Wheat, Millets, Almonds & Cashew-nuts. The new born are well nurtured, home trained for fifteen days using a technique called Wings-Tying (இறக்கை கட்டுவது) and carefully water boarded, though these sound barbarous (pun not intended), they are an essential part to hone the homing skills of the pigeons. There is a vibrant pigeon racing community in India and Chennai has now become the capital for the sport. In a recent race one of their birds came first in a country wide race. The bird had flown from New Delhi to Chennai in 32 days while the runner up took 60 days for the same distance. The winning bird got sold to a collector for nearly Rs.1.6 Lakhs (USD 2600). There are castes amongst pigeons which are carefully analyzed by a buyer, pedigree counts a lot, offspring of race winning birds being most sought after.
Next time when I go for a haircut, I should remember to opt for a different hairdresser. I hope I get someone whose brother or sister is into drone flying, that’s something I know nothing about and I wish to learn.