Barbeiro Lojas de Panjim

Survey of the city’s old barber shops.

The few surviving barbearias (Portuguese for barber shops) of Panjim are reminders of a zeitgeist in which the simple pleasures of life could be enjoyed in a placid, languid setting. It was a civilized Goa. (No, this is not romanticization of an imaginary, distant past. There are photographs to attest to those times and some of us who lived through them are still alive and not that old.) These hangovers now seem incongruous, unable to keep up with the more contemporary hair saloons and stylists that blot dot the city, mostly staffed by outsiders since it is very hard to find a young Goan willing to adopt the métier.

Most of the barbearias of my childhood have closed shop. Notable among them was the one located inside the municipal gardens in the city’s centre. As was customary at the time, every family in Panjim usually had a chosen shop that its members patronized (similar loyalty obtained in matters of tailors, grocers, cafés, and so on). Barbearias were also the chat rooms of that era, an important community router directing news and gossip.

Our own affiliation was to Barbearia Nova, founded in 1958. My father would haul this little twerp there and furnish detailed instructions to the head barber on the kind of ‘cut’ he wanted for me. I had no say whatsoever in the matter.

A couple of years ago, I took an excursion of the town’s barbearias. At Barbearia Nova I was stoked to see that the old kids chair made by Takara was still around. (For a brief history of the barber chair, see this.) Barbearia Real is still managed by its original owner. The oldest of the survivors is Barbearia Indiana, seen in the final photos below. I managed to track down Ramchandra Velgenkar, barber emeritus at Indiana, and had a delightful chat with him at his home.

All my blog posts devoted to the heritage of Panjim are consolidated here.

Barber's chair made by Takara of Japan

Barber’s chair made by Takara of Japan
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Barbearia Nova, 1958, founder Ramnath Kundaikar

Barbearia Nova, 1958. Founder: Ramnath Kundaikar
5D Mark II, TS-E 24L II

 
Kids chair, Barbearia Nova

Kids chair, Barbearia Nova
5D Mark II, 14L II

 

Barber Vishnu Virnodkar in action

Barber Vishnu Virnodkar

Armed and Dangerous: Barber Vishnu Virnodkar
5D Mark II, 14L II

 
Chair specs at Barbearia Nova

Takara chair specs at Barbearia Nova
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Group photo of the early barbers at Barbearia Nova

Members of the early staff at Barbearia Nova
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Barbearia Real, 1958.  Founder: Datta Sakhalkar

Barbearia Real, 1958. Founder: Datta Sakhalkar
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Datta Sakhalkar, owner of Barbearia Real, 1958

Datta Sakhalkar in action
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Barbearia Indiana, 1926.  Founder: Hari Borcar

Barbearia Indiana, 1926. Founder: Hari Borcar
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 

Barbearia Indiana founded in 1926 by Hari Borcar of Ekoshi

Barbearia Indiana founded in 1926 by Hari Borcar of Ekoshi

Tools of the trade
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 

Ramchandra Velgenkar - retired barber from Barbearia Indiana

Ramchandra Velgenkar - retired barber from Barbearia Indiana

Ramchandra Velgenkar – retired barber from Barbearia Indiana
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
 
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  • Augusto Pinto - January 20, 2013 - 9:04 pm

    Most of the barber shops were manned by the ‘mhale’ or barber caste, nowadays called the Gomantak Nhavi Samaj. Nowadays I think that few want to carry on with this profession and with education they can easily migrate to other fields. Or if at all they still run the shops, they hire barbers who migrate here from Andhra and other states. Even otherwise the migrant barbers are taking over the show even in the villages.

    At the same time Hair Stylists, or Hair and Beauty Salons are being opened in Goa which can be quite high tech are being opened, where many Goan women have begun joining the profession.ReplyCancel

  • vnm - January 14, 2013 - 3:43 pm

    Do (traditional) naviks in Goa double up as (temple) musicians?ReplyCancel

  • Mervyn Lobo - January 11, 2013 - 8:23 pm

    Thanks for recording this before it is gone forever.ReplyCancel

  • jc - January 11, 2013 - 6:13 pm

    Another lovely photographic memory of gentler times gone by. The faces tell a story, in a delightful state of calm. It is unfortunate that, in the name of modernization, the rat-race is taking over. I have good memories of Barbearia Real. Thanks Rajan. Thanks very much.ReplyCancel

  • Nandkumar Kamat - January 11, 2013 - 4:04 am

    Very creative project in Panaji’s visual social anthropology. Outstanding concept, outstanding idea, perfect tributes to professionals who are being thrown out due to influx. Yes, I have excellent memories of the barabaria – esp. the one in municipal garden, there was Sankhlakar nr. old Sher e Punjab (now Yatin Parekh’s shop stands there) and one which I patronised till last year nr. Hindu Pharmacy. Owner Ramchandra was a good friend of my father Mucunda and has many stories to tell.
    Nanu Tarcar Pednekar from this class (they call themselves Goa Nabhik Samaj) was a well known reformer of first half of last century and was active in educational and library movement. They founded the Mahalaxmi vachanalaya in Mala.
    In association with Goa Nabhik Samaj this exhibition can be taken to people all over Goa.

    Great work Dr. Rajan, Panaji speaks through your lens. Purchase all the volumes by Vasco Pinho on history of Goa/Panaji and the one (may be 3rd or 4th) on old Panjim with rare photographs post 1880-90. I gifted my personal copy to Mr. Manoharbab Parrikar on May 25 in his cabin.
    ReplyCancel

    • Rajan P. Parrikar - January 12, 2013 - 7:31 am

      Dr. Kamat, thank you for your remarks. I do have all the 5 volumes of Vasco Pinho’s work on Panjim, and they have been personally signed by him. I make it a point to meet Vasco-bab every time I am in Goa for we are united in our common love of Panjim & Goa.ReplyCancel

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