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Food matters... shear joy

Jawed Habib likes simple Indian food like dosa but he prefers food from the region where he is in. He relishes the grouper fish at Baan Thai.



THAI DELIGHT: Noted hair stylist Jawed habib finds food to cheer at The Oberoi's Baan Thai restuarant in New Delhi. — Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

HE STARTS off with a joke he believes is a classy one. With seriousness, he narrates the tale of the two baals (hair) that wanted to marry. Alas! It dawned upon them that Baal Vivah is banned in India. It is only then that Jawed Habib lets a smile come to his face which broadens with the realisation that the joke has been well accepted by people sitting next to him at the Ban Thai, The Oberoi's Thai restaurant. Not that it takes a som tum to get the hair stylist rolling but the tangy raw papaya salad definitely draws the candid best out of him.

"I can make a joke out of anything. Still I am serious about my work and my family. That's why you don't see me on page 3 of the newspapers," he informs. He pauses for a minute to lavish praises on the coconut mock tail that he has just sipped. "Only genuine people survive," he continues.

"Has any one really checked out if these page 3 people live up to the claims they stake? They can just tell you that they go for a fancy diet with something at eight in the morning and another thing precisely one hour from it. All this is nonsense. If you want to grow make sure people around you grow. I keep my eyes on the ground, am passionate about my work and family and I enjoy my life. That's the secret of success," he reveals.


"My grandfather, my father and I eat all kinds of sweets, yet we never had a problem. Following fancy diets doesn't help. Eat anything but not fast food but drink lots of water," explains Habib whose advice has been much sought after by the organisers of Miss India and Lakme India Fashion Week among others. "Also, one should get up in early in the morning; have a heavy breakfast and a light dinner. Why do we go to namaaz? Allah Talah wants us to wake up early in the morning," he adds. Personally Habib likes simple Indian food like dosa but he prefers food from the region where he is in. No wonder he really relishes the grouper fish and the chicken phad Thai while he is in Bangkok or in Baan Thai for that matter.

"I am not a fussy eater. I can't be, after all those years in England. Initially I wanted to do Hotel Management with the Oberoi's as my father was a hair stylist there but was confused. My father then got me an admission in England for a course in cosmetology and I agreed partly because of the fairer skin I would get a chance to see. But within months I got used to it and what remained was respect and passion for my course. When I returned, people preferred my father and my brother, who were already established, to get their hair cut. Things changed when I got my name in the Limca Book of Records for the most number of hair cuts in a day, 410 to be precise," he recalls.

It was then that Habib became a brand. "Today we have 31 outlets in India and one in New York. More would be opening up in London and Paris soon. Maintaining the same quality everywhere isn't easy. I want my work to speak up and not VIPs. A VIP client is one who has come from a distance to me. To ensure quality we only take students who have learnt at our hair styling school even if it's for the New York Salon," he adds.

The scrumptious coconut ice cream brings out the visionary in him.

"I want Habib to be global. It is possible. Our culture is such that we can achieve anything." Some serious talk. And what's next? Well it's another joke before he thanks the staff for the lovely lunch.

S.M. YASIR

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