The first guest of this year’s Ramadan special program, brought by v-online is an expatriate. Although he doesn’t have a Maldivian passport, he has been living among us for 20 years. For him, Maldivians are like family. Serving them, an honor and a privilege.
Customers visiting the ‘Hollywood Salon’, one of the most famous ones in Male’, would have no trouble identifying him. He is not the owner of the salon. He is just a trustworthy staff who the owner trusts to operate the salon.
Ram Kumar, 44, is a father of two boys, and an excellent example of kindness and respect to others.
Ram’s mother is a Sri Lankan, his father an Indian. The first four months of his life was spent in Sri Lanka, the rest in Tamil Nadu, India when the family relocated, until January 1998 when he moved to Maldives.
Ram, who had nine siblings, moved to Maldives as a barber to help his father Saamy in the same field. His father too had spent numerous years as a barber in the Maldives prior to his son’s arrival. His father worked an astonishing 33 years, from 1978 till 2011, in the Maldives. He returned to India when sickness and old age forced him to stop working. With his father’s departure, Ram took over the responsibility of operating the salon.
When Ram first came to Maldives, there were fewer salons in operation. With the passing of the years, the increasing number of salons and competition, it had become his aim to provide the best quality service for his customers. With his boss’ encouragement the salon has developed from the lone service of cutting hair, to one providing almost all the services available at other salons nowadays.
Ram said his father and his boss always paid special attention to provide quality service, build rapport with customers and to keep the work place clean and hygienic. He too follows in their footsteps. Ram believes the connection of loyalty and friendship between him and the seven other staff working in the salon, has helped immensely in providing good service to the customers and attaining their trust.
Although he is the head of the staff at the salon, a customer would not be able to make any distinction between him and the other staff there. He works just as hard as the others, his schedule a busy one. According to some of the staff working there, Ram is not one to discriminate and is easy going in nature.
Talking about Maldivians, Ram said they are kind people who pay special attention to cleanliness. He also believes that Maldivians are knowledgeable and keen to adapt to change, following the latest fashions. Having said that, he pointed out that the customers visiting his salon did not always have a specific hair style in mind.
Ram said that even with his five-year experience as a barber in India, it still took his some time to get used to the styles that Maldivians preferred to cut their hair. He emphasized the vast difference in preference when it comes to styling the hair and beard, between Maldivians and Indians.
‘Most people cut their hair in normal styles, but the youth prefer the latest fashions. We provide many services including hair dyeing, massage, re-bonding and many more. But most people just want to cut their hair. Most Maldivians talk to us kindly, are good and loving towards us. We also try to return the favor’, Ram said.
Ram had cut hair for 79,000 people in the 20 years he had worked in the Maldives, many recurring customers. Ram also has special customers such as Chief Judge, ministers, parliament members and other wealthy clients, who seek him out to cut their hair.
Ram had also served as the barber for the children of presidents in the country, whom he wished not to name in the article to maintain their privacy as they were very dear customers for him.
In the years he worked in the Maldives, Ram noted the development of the country as the most noteworthy aspect. Especially the fast pace in which the capital Male’ developed, was remarkable to him.
Ram, who has made numerous friends here, said that he did not wish to leave Maldives and return to India. Being able to make enough money to keep his family here, he is content to continue working here. His aim is to work and serve Maldivians longer than his father did.
If the locals allow him, he is ready to serve Maldivians forever.