For this smart-phone generation the world is just a click away, literally. So are the latest trends in hairstyles. Aakash Hassan tries to understand what inspires the new generation when it comes to grooming

It was a restless night for Rizwan as he impatiently waited for daybreak, cursing darkness. All the while he devotedly surfed Instagram pages of his favorite celebrities on his smart-phone.

After spending hours doing so, he finally zeroed in on three pictures and saved them on his phone. Then he sent the saved pictures to his friends on whatsapp for final consent – after all he doesn’t want to take any risks when it comes to choosing a new hairstyle.

The next morning, Rizwan, a Class 9 student, was the first customer waiting outside a salon. He was shivering in the cold of Kashmir winters.

After fifteen minutes, Ovais, the hairdresser, walked in. He was not at all surprised to see Rizwan waiting outside in cold.

As he opened his shop and set chairs, Rizwan begun showing him pictures of celebrities he had saved the previous night.

“I want to look like this,” said Rizwan while flipping through saved pictures of celebrities.

The reason of urgency, Rizwan states, is comments by his friends on his hairstyle. His friends had suggested him to change. “It is no big deal,” Ovais assured him and made him sit.

Ovais Hameed, 17, is from Bijnoar, Uttar Pardesh, but has lived most of his life in Srinagar. He runs salon at Habib Chinar near Iqbal Park Srinagar.

“I came here with my family when I was about five-years-old,” says Ovais while moving scissor over Rizwan’s long hair.

Ovais’ hand is one of the preferred ones in this locality when it comes to styling. “Customers visit me from distant places to get their desired look,” he says. Handling customers like Rizwan is his regular job. “Most of my customers are youngsters. I just cut hair as they direct me.”

To get exact look they have to bring pictures along so that Ovais can copy the look.

Rizwan, after his haircut, thoroughly looks into the mirror and flashes a smile of satisfaction. “My friends used to mock my hairstyle,” recalls Rizwan. “I had imitated one of my favorite Punjabi singers.”

Ovais trimmed Rizwan’s hair deep in the sides and on the top, kept them as they were. Then he drew two curved lines just above his ears all the way back, then down to his neck.

Like an expert, Rizwan declares that the hairstyles are changing very fast. “In every six months there is something new.”

Right now there are three types of hairstyles in vogue. The first one is called Under-cut. It is deep trimming in the sides and modest at the top. HIP-HOP: all the hair straight upwards and Emu: Straight long hair over the ear up to the neck.

However, the variety of the styles have changed a lot and most of them cannot be named.

Aadil Ahmad Rah, who lives in Karan Nagar area of Srinagar, has a peculiar hairstyle. Long and weaved around the head. However he denies of imitating any celebrity. “I love to experiment with my hair and want to get different looks,” said Rah.

But sometimes the experiments didn’t go well.

Recently, while growing hair for months to get a specific look, Rah messed up at last by making some change. “But that didn’t go well and I had to shave my head.”

For youngsters, hairstyle is an important part of their personality as it depicts what they are.

“It is cool and attractive to follow latest trends,” said Jibran Iqbal, Class 10 student of Govt. Higher Secondary School, Islamabad.

Hairstylists like Ovais argue that it is because of the internet that such swift changes in style happen. “They want to look like celebrities they had seen on the internet,” feels Ovais.

However, for some hairstyle also depict their field of interest.

For Saleem Ahmad, 20, a cricket buff from Baramulla, his hairstyle changes according to Indian cricketer Virat Kohli’s.

But a large numbers of youth are unable to explain the reason for behind the change. There are a few who are compelled to transform.

Shoib, a Class 9 student, who used to have a simple haircut, felt himself a misfit amongst his classmates.

“I was the odd one out in my class because of my hairstyle,” said Shoib. “I was seen as someone backward.”

To stay in-sync with the fashion Shoib got a new hairstyle, a recent one.

At schools, colleges, and home, these youngsters have to face wrath of their teachers or parents because of adopting new trends.

“I was thrown out of the classroom a number of times because of my long hair,” said Shahdab Gillani, a media student at Government Degree Collage, Baramulla. He was compelled to trim but felt humiliated. This year he has grown his hair again. “My teachers either accept me with my hairstyle or I have made my plans to leave the college.”

The debate over hairstyles between teachers and students is an old one.

“They come with peculiar hairstyles that don’t suit a student,” said Hashim Sayed, a teacher. “We have no problem unless it does not look odd and atypical. Students need to maintain decorum of the class.”

But for Miran Gulzar, who is perusing his bachelor’s in English literature from Delhi University, ‘the change can be attributed to globalization’.

“This trend is not confined to Kashmir only. You will find same craze in mainland India and other countries,” said Gulzar. “People living in developing countries often follow trends from developed countries. It is an old practice. One that is in vogue even before internet came into existence.”

Even before internet became popular salons used to have Bollywood magazines for quick references in styling and trends.

At the same time the demand of expert barbers has pushed the local barber community to the background. “There are hardly any native barbers left in trade,” said Gulzar.

Almost every major town and city in Kashmir have salons run by non-natives. These salons actually set trends in Kashmir. However, there are only a few salons for females, confined to major towns and  cities. “It is because of societal setup that only a few women came to salons,” said a stylist. “Those who come are only interesting in things like rebounding, highlighting, waxing etc.”

However, as internet became easily accessible in both rural and urban areas, people are now more conscious about new hairstyles and trends. “For boys getting a particular look is all about impressing their classmates or female friends,” said Gulzar.

But do these hairstyles actually help in impressing people around you? “It looks weird when a boy sports a strange hairstyle,” said Falak Ashraf, a college going student. “One can look good without actually being weird.”



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