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Barbershop Of Yore

barbershop (Leica D-Lux 5)

It is not age alone which turns old memories about something much more endearing to a person, but the chemical action of friendship and of many kinds of tears and laughter carried with it. I stumbled upon this street-side barbershop around a corner in uphill Sheung Wan, an old area quieter than most parts of the urban area in Hong Kong. A few of such can be found tucked among the back lanes between Central and the districts to the west, and other old districts on the Kowloon peninsula as well. What is so striking about this one is that I have never come across any as sizable and well equipped. Equally striking are the two special reclining chairs which are not commonly seen in such street-side barbershops. As told during a visit to this, these chairs are worth thousands of Hong Kong dollars each. And they are not available just anywhere now.

These street-side barbershops sprang throughout the territories in last century until maybe the late 1980s to provide affordable hairdressing service to the locals. In the beginning, there were the itinerant barbers, gradually replaced by such street-side vendors which in turn were phased out with the advent of the fashionable, air-conditioned Shanghainese hairdressing saloons as shown in the above link and written previously here.

At the very mention of a street-side barbershop, a prominent feature of it immediately jumps to mind. It is that in the old days, they were the citadels for children after school for the sake of the many boxes of comic books. There were usually lots of them, new and back issues, provided for free by the barbers. To those who were one of these young patrons and readers, a barbershop cum makeshift library may be a more apt description of the business. At times, children laughed together at the jokes in the comic books. At other times, reading comics about a gangsters' story would be followed by a pretended combat which could erupt into a real fighting and tearful parting in the end.


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