Around the globe, you will see barbers set up their shops at some of the most uncommon locations - with their tools, a chair, mirrors, and skillset. Enclosure might be the only thing that separates a regular shop from a street shop but you can avail the cheapest grooming services at one's disposal in the city from street barbers.
There are many salons that are scattered on the streets of our capital - mostly on footpaths in busy areas where we - the passersby - might get a glimpse of the barber's dedication.
I was visiting a friend at the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedic Rehabilitation at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar and decided to stop for some tea on my way out. Traumatised by the condition of the hospital and my friend's broken leg, I found myself awed by everything around me. This is when I saw Mohammad Dillu, a barber, doing what he does best - cutting hair and chatting up with his customers.
Given my hair, I was a potential customer to him and thus came the unveiling of Dillu, a resident of the Bihari Camp and an ex-embroiderer who decided to open his own barbershop eight years ago due to low income.
He said, "The work I used to get for embroidery was not sufficient. There was not enough money in it to make a living. Now, I somehow am surviving by the grace of Allah."
Dillu mastered his skill from a shop in Bihari Camp within a year. His customers are mostly low-income people so he charges Tk50 for a haircut, Tk30 for cream shave, and Tk50 for foam shave. He plans to set up his own shop but living in Dhaka with a family of five can be expensive.
"My wife still does embroidery and together, we make ends meet,'' said Dillu.
He made me realise that it is possible to live life with the hope of a better future, no matter what your present state is.
My interest peaked, so I went heart to heart with a few of the same profession and this is where things got interesting.
I met Hasan Mahmud Ovi near Love Road in Tejgaon industrial area. Ovi runs his barbershop for different reasons - to pass time and keep reality in check. He completed his master's degree in political science from Tejgaon College and plans to sit for the Bangladesh Civil Service examination.
He did private jobs before as a salesman for Square Group in Dhaka and Kohinoor Spinning Mill in Savar.
"I did not continue those jobs because I do not like working in the private sector. I like writing a lot and have been scribbling from time to time," said Ovi.
I really had no idea what I walked into. Dhaka may not have lost all its hope because there are people who still value ethics.
Ovi does not charge his customers any specific amount. "I make around Tk200-300 a day from my shop. My customers are mostly rickshaw pullers and I take whatever my customers can give."
A man who values money but does not crave it - a rare gem indeed.
My next visit took me to the heart of the city – Motijheel – where I met Uttam Das closing his shop for the night. He did not understand my eagerness and since my hair was already finely done, thanks to Dillu, Uttam was disinterested in talking to me at first.
So, I offered him some tea and shared excerpts from my insane day while he shared some stories of his life on the footpath of the DIT Avenue.
Uttam is a chirpy fellow. He has been a barber for most of his life. "I have been a barber for almost 18 years. My father and I owned a shop at New Market in Chattogram for 12 years. When he passed away, I sold the shop and went to Qatar on a tourist visa in search of a job."
He stayed in Qatar for two years but could not find a stable job. "I had to come back and since then, I have been running this shop," he said.
He makes Tk400-500 a day but he still has debts to pay off. He borrowed the money to travel to Qatar.
"I want to set up a proper shop but I cannot start saving up for the shop before I pay my loans back," he said.
With a smile on his face, he then showed me how he plans to bring in more customers. He says the key lies in behaviour.
"I behave well with the customers and they come back to me."
The burdens we carry, the mistakes we make and the values we adhere to - three individuals, three stories, and three realities striving in three different parts of Dhaka. The only thing common among all three is "hope" – hope for a stable today and a better tomorrow.