Beauty Parlour (Salão de Beleza)
by Manosh Chowdhury
Trans. Mrs Krishna Datta
Beauty Parlours attract me. It is not because of the pretty ladies who stay inside these parlours. But one of the terms and conditions - ` men are not allowed inside ` somehow amazes me. My wife is not a regular customer in a Beauty Parlour and if she ever went to one even I am sure she would never keep her husband waiting outside of the Parlour. I would not like to wait either. I am not that interested to get the services which are provided there. They mean anything to me. Besides, there are quite a few parlours in Dhaka city which are meant strictly for men. I never feel like going and getting services there. Just without any reason I am always curious about a Beauty Parlour.
One can find quite a few Beauty Parlours with a reasonably large signboard hanging outside, on an important or not so important road in Dhaka .The larger parlours are more respected and popular. The customers who visit them are also quite sophisticated. The parlour has a large space which means it offers more facilities. A big, expensive parlour provides a lounge outside the main salon where male companions can sit and wait for their partners with bored looks on their faces and fiddle with their fingers on a smart phone. Depending on the size of the space the parlour offers extra services like Hair-dressing, Pedicure, Manicure and so on. Higher the service charge is, the higher the number of the staff working there. I feel interested to know about those workers too.
A long time ago, when I landed in Dhaka for the first time straight from a small town, I was amazed by Mirpur Road. I had felt as if it was a mine full of a variety of surprises. In a location on that road, Neelkhet, one could find everything from small book shops to a Chicken–polao restaurants. On the other side of the road a place called New Market, where one can get everything from hard-ware goods to mosquito net, costume jewellery and what not! There, in the corner of Gauchhiya there are some shops where saris are for sale inside and which sold fried vegetable snacks on the entrance as well. On street diagonally opposite, one can find even a music shop – Gaaner Dali . On the whole this is a great street with a package of big excitement and mobility from morning to evening.
Once in a while, if you stroll on the road, proceed further on the road leaving Dhaka Collage on the right hand side of the road and some shops of musical instruments next to it, you will find a beauty parlour on the left named “Hong Kong Beauty Parlour”. On some days you could notice few of the parlour`s female workers who were coming out of the parlour. As it is, the name of the parlour is Hong Kong and those ladies used to resemble either someone Chinese or Japanese to a stupid, uncultured Bengali boy like me. It took quite a long time for me to understand that these ladies are mainly from the caste Mandi (Garo). And it needed some research for me to find out why and how these girls become the first choice in this particular profession. But I won`t tell that story here.
When I used to go to my work place from Uttara everyday I had to take two roads, one is called Ashulia and the other Zirabo. Both the roads were notorious for their bad conditions. It was really amazing to have such rotten roads so near to the city of Dhaka. And that is also years after years. The transport arranged by the university used to ply via Ashulia normally. But sometimes I used to take a public bus which used to go through Zirabo. So both the roads were known to me. The locality of Ashulia and Zirabo were direct witnesses of protests, agitations, expanses and changes of the city of Dhaka itself in various ways like brick-furnesses to hundreds of garment factories, electricity generator factories to pharmaceutical companies or from Fantasy kingdom to evening joggers next to the large water-tanks filled with rain water. On the whole it is a massive settlement, and at the same time a horrible chaos. It’s busy but mismanaged. Among the gaps between those settlements there were numerous small rented houses shadowed away from the public eyes. The occupants, come from the villages or small towns and used to work as labourer in the various types of factories. But the workers who used to work mainly in the garment factories were referred in urban consciousness.
On the both side of the roads of Ashulia and Zirabo there were plenty of beauty parlours operated from those small shops situated in a short gap of space. Very simple and humble in appearance. The signboards were so small in size that one could easily miss it if one did not look for it attentively. There are so many and situated in such close proximity that they supersede in the numbers those in sophisticated part of the city. Surprisingly there was one photo-shop next to almost all of parlours which were also very small in size. When I used to pass those parlours on the way to the university by a public bus, sometimes, my curiosity used to grow so much so that I used to feel like getting down from the bus and visit one or two of those parlours. But somehow it never happened. I used to get a glimpse of the photos that hung on the wall of the studios. Photos of those who had once gone inside, got their face made up and then took a snap before leaving the parlour. I could see a glimpse of those remote faces from even the bus I rode on. And I would imagine the next possible incident supposed to take place.
My curiosity grew stronger when an incident took place in Rana Plaza one day. Some people were killed in a building collapse. Initially no one knew the number of the victims. Still today, nobody actually know how many were killed or injured. But there are always some sort of accounts of any incident. Right from the beginning the relatives of those unfortunate people who were buried under the rabbles started coming to the site everyday holding a photograph of the deceased in their hands. They used to keep standing and waiting. Even then after one year some still would to come and wait. Wait just like that without any hope. Each one of them carried a photo of one face, made up in a tiny beauty parlour.
 Rana Plaza was the site of a major disaster when a garments factory building collapsed in 2013.
Ciência Política → Crônicas Sociais → Beauty Parlour