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“I remember cutting your hair”

This post is also available in: Malay

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Star Air-Conditioned Hair Dressing Salon at No.97, Belfield Street (Jalan Sultan Yusuff), Ipoh

Thirunavu Karusu a/l Krishnan, 4th generation barber

Star Air-Conditioned Hair Dressing Salon opened for business in 1927 with just two barbers, one of them the owner who was Thiru’s father’s brother-in-law. Two years later, Thiru’s father joined the business. Then in 1953, Thiru, then just a young boy of 13, was brought into the business as an apprentice barber.

Over the years, Thiru watched the business expand to 14 barbers then shrink back to just two barbers in 2011.

Star Barber as it stood in 2010. Star Optical House is located beside it though both shops are not related.

Star Barber as it stood in 2010. Star Optical House is located beside it though both shops are not related.

I used to have my hair cut at Star Salon as a boy, sitting on a smooth wooden plank placed across the armrests of the barber’s chair.

Today, that barber shop is no more.

In 2010, the entire row of shop houses where Star was located was sold for redevelopment. I took these pictures a year later. Shortly after, Thiru and his longtime friend cut hair at Star for the last time before they shut down for good.

Thiru showed me around his premises. He had such stories to tell about the salon’s heyday when all the barbers lived upstairs. He recalled the shared laughter and banter between the barbers and their customers. I even saw a small wooden plank that looked vaguely familiar.

He mentioned that he had been offered a unit in the new development but turned it down because he realised that it was time to retire. He said that after five decades and more, he had cut everybody’s hair – even mine. He had raised a family and one son had even followed in his footsteps, with a thriving barber shop of his own. He had done his part.

The aforementioned wooden plank I may have sat on as a young boy.

The aforementioned wooden plank I may have sat on as a young boy.

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This photograph was taken in 1965. Not by me! I count 15 barbers

Thiru already knew in 2010 that his shop would soon close.

Thiru already knew in 2010 that his shop would soon close.

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