Nowhere in the city was there more talk than in barbershops. As soon as the client entered, the conversation began. Is he in good health, why hasn’t he come, how’s the family. He then sat comfortably in his chair, and the barber began to stir the foam into a small basin. After obtaining the required density, the master began to hit the razor on the belt hanging on the chair, talking without stopping even for a moment. It was time for the soaping to start, and it lasted a long time, as most men only shaved once or twice a week. A short break to soften the beard, which was again filled with endless stories and so the whole process lasted at least half an hour. More time was wasted on speaking than on work, and the queue was becoming huge, but that didn't bother the barber at all.
In many of these shops there was also a place (odzak) for coffee - a custom left over from Turkish times. The coffee makers constantly heated the pot and poured the coffee into colorful cups, almost without a break. Unfortunately, the sanitary authorities put an end to this idyll.
One of the oldest barbers in the city was Yakomidis. He was liked by pashas and beys, but he was also a favorite of Ferdinand. He accepted him as a court barber - a great title at the time, which earned him a whole year of training in Paris. His barber shop was on Main Street, near Dzhumaya Square, and then he moved it to his own building, across from the former Sofia confectionery shop.
His apprentice, Hachik, was also very famous. He is known to have died at the age of 102 and almost to the end grabbed the razor for his clients. Initially, his salon was located at the site of today's entrance to the theater, and then moved to 11 Naiden Gerov Street.
Another character who was also much talked about at the time was the barber Sabri of Kapana. His shop was outdoors and consisted of only two chairs without backs - one for him and one for the client. He did not shave, however, only cut hair. Often after the haircut the head looked like the skin of a zebra due to the uneven cut, but his clients were most often old Turks who did not bother much.
In some barbershops, the masters practiced an additional craft, again left over from Turkish times - extracting teeth. Newspapers reported cases of severe infections and broken jaws, but inviting signs reading "I'm pulling teeth without oh!" hung on the doors and lured customers. There was no cleaning of tools or disinfection. It was only when the fines increased significantly that the "dentists" gave up on their own.
Today we are again seeing a return to this seemingly long-forgotten craft. In recent years, dozens of new barbershops have opened, where fortunately they do not extract teeth, but are up to date with all the latest trends in shaping and styling men's beards, and you can still learn a lot about everything new in the city under the hills, especially if you can listen!
The text is based on information from the book Plovdiv Chronicle by Nikola Alvadzhiev.
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