June 24, 2020 1:50:01 am
At a time when salons across Mumbai are shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic, barber Santosh Anant Borhade, armed with a comb, a pair of scissors, a mask and a pair of faded gloves, has been offering grooming services to the frontline warriors free of charge since the lockdown was imposed in March.
On a good day, the 40-year-old barber does 10 haircuts, almost half the number of services he provided before the lockdown.
“When salons and beauty parlours were barred from functioning due to the pandemic, it had a direct effect on my income. Initially, I was a little tense, but looking at how policemen and doctors kept going during the pandemic, I too wanted to do something for the society,” Borhade said.
In the business since 2003, Borhade owns a salon, called Soham, near Sandhurst Road station. He usually charges Rs 80 each for a haircut and to style and shave beard. “Mumbai Police is a disciplined force. Police personnel have to ensure that they wear their hair and beard neatly in front of their superiors. Doctors, too, need to wear their hair short as there is a larger risk of carrying infection in longer tresses. So, I took it upon myself to help them,” Borhade said.
Borhade said he has been constantly getting calls from either policemen or doctors at JJ hospital. “The number of calls fluctuate. There have been days when I have started my day early and cut hair until late in the night, providing service to at least 20 frontline workers on a day,” he said.
ACP (Dongri division) Avinash Dharmadhikari, who has availed services from Borhade twice, said, “It is significant that he is not expecting anything in return. Initially, when I was looking for someone to cut my hair, I learnt that barbers were charging four times the usual rate. Then I came across Borhade, who was doing it for free.”
Borhade had learnt the skill from his father, who had become a hairdresser after a 10-year stint as a BEST conductor. Living in a 200-sq ft room in Dongri with his wife, three children and elderly mother, the 40-year-old barber fears he might carry home the infection. “Whenever I enter my house, I directly go to the bathroom without touching anything. I take every tool inside and wash them properly,” he says.
In April, after his wife tested, a nurse at JJ Hospital, had tested positive for the coronavirus infection, the family had home quarantined themselves for 14 days.
Hygiene, Borhade said, is paramount for him. “I use sanitizers that have a high amount of alcohol and hot water to disinfect each tool after each haircut. My wife has also guided me on ways to sanitise the equipment,” he said.
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