A hairdresser in a down south Tamil Nadu was surprised when he received a call from the Prime Minister of Bharat Narendra Modi to know more about his unique “library in a salon” to cultivate reading habit among his customers.
Prime Minister Modi has been addressing the nation on the last Sunday of every month. In that, he never missed to mention achievers even from a remote part of Bharat with a telephonic conversation. He also quotes eloquently from Thirukkural, epics like Ramayan, Mahabharat or any other scriptures, hymns etc. His personal interaction with people gives them a surprise and a boost. In June, PM Modi spoke to a Madurai based 13- year old school student M Nethra who asked her father Mohan to spend Rs 5 lakhs that he saved for education to people affected by Covid 19 lockdown. Her father runs a Salon in Madurai. PM Modi had praised Nethra for her decision.
Now another hairdresser from Thoothukudi had the proud moments when the Prime Minister interacted with him in Tamil. His efforts found special mention in Prime Minister Modi’s 70th Radio broadcast “ Mannkibaat” on October 25.
PM Modi: Vanakkam Mariappan, NallaIrukkingala (Namaste Maraiappanji. How are you?
Mariappan: My greetings to respected PM
PM: Vanakkam Vankakkam,ungalukkuLiberary Idea EppadiVandathu? (Namaste Namaste! How did you get to idea of setting up a library in your salon?
Maraiappan: I could study up-to 8 standard only due to poverty. I used to regret for not studying when I saw learned persons studying books with ease. I noticed something lacking in me. It occurred to me why not set up a library why not set up a library – a reading specility for my customers. This thought inspired me, while waiting it would help them to spend the time usefully. It would be beneficial for all.
PM:UngalukkuPidithaputhagamEthu? ( which is your favourite book?)
PonMariappan: Thirukural is my most favourite book.
PM: Oh! UngaludanpesuvathilMakizhchiAdaikiren. Nalvazhtukkal. (Oh! It was my pleasure talking to you. My best wishes to you.)
Mariappan: I am too delighted to talk to you,Hon’ble Prime Minister.
PM: Nalvazthukkal(Many greetings)
Mariappan: Many Thanks , respected Prime Minister Sir
PM : Thanks you.
All along Prime Minister spoke only in Tamil and Mariappan’s answers were translated in Hindi to enable him to understand.
In any salon in Tamil Nadu, one can find vernacular and English dailies, a couple of weeklies for the benefit of waiting customers. In some salons, customers can the option to view TV programmes. Of course, it is a place for political and cine gossips and anything under the su can be debated there. Thoothukudi is no different from this. Thousands of salons are catering to the customers in grooming their hair in tune with the latest fashion. But one owned by 39 year-old Pon Mariappan’s Sushil Kumar Beauty Hair Salon at Millerpuram is unique one. It offers a wide array of grooming services for men, including haircuts, shaving, trimming of beard,moustache and massages. Here the customers, while waiting their turn, can lay their hands on the neatly stocked books on the racks to read. In the salon, customers can’t use cell phones and if unavoidable, they can stop out of the salon to take or make calls. This is to encourage people to read more and to avoid mobiles for which most of us are addicted. Customer is given discounts if they review a book that they read. A para is worth to get a 30 percent discount.
P. PonMariappan’s novel venture earned kudos from writer S Ramakrishnan and former cricketer Harsha Bhogle. He said once he opened a salon, he decided to look for ways to somehow integrate his passion for education with this jobwhich he could not get due to the financial constraints of his family. According to reports that Mariappan started collecting books from stores and rathiwalas for that purpose he sets apart a portion of his income. Now he has a collection of over 900 books which includes fictions, autobiographies, self-help both in Tamil and English. He wants to expand this by lending books to school and college students in future. He is an inspiration for many in Bharat.