Monday, 30th October 2017

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Joke for some, jolt for Calcutta barber

The untold story behind a viral visiting card

By Snehal Sengupta in Calcutta
  • Published 20.07.19, 1:44 AM
  • Updated 20.07.19, 1:44 AM
  • 2 mins read
Modern Saloon in Salt Lake Sanat Kr Sinha

Some marketing mavens may think any publicity is good publicity but Amaresh Manna has no intention to milk his plight that has caught countless eyeballs.

Ota khub baje kotha. Aami porey bujhechhi. Kintu aamra ota chhapatey chaini kokhono. Aamake aar aamar koromochari der niye sabai ekhon moja korchey (It is a very bad word. I understood later what it means. We never wanted to print something like this. People are now making fun of me and my employees),” Manna told Metro on Friday.

The “bad word” he referred to is “barbaric”, which unfortunately made it to the visiting card of his barbershop or salon because of a phonetic similarity.

“All kinds of barbaric activities are done at a reasonable price and at your home. We are always ready to extend our helping hands,” reads the calling card of Modern Saloon, located in Salt Lake.

Manna, the proprietor of Modern Saloon, said he had instructed the printer to write “barber work” on the card but somehow the printed phrase became “barbaric activities”.

The card was manna from heaven for the take-no-prisoners world of trolls, which pounced on the word “barbaric” and made merry. Over the past few days, the card has been zipping from one smartphone to another, crossing borders and logging thousands of miles. Some Calcuttans have received forwards of the card from Britain, Kozhikode in Kerala, Bangalore and several other cities.

(Below) the saloon’s visiting card
(Below) the saloon’s visiting card Sanat Kr Sinha

Manna said he and his employees had distributed around 50 of these cards to customers shortly after the shop was renovated and the upholstery of the chairs changed. The card mentions Manna and carries a handwritten cellphone number against the name of an employee.

If Manna is deeply hurt by the unwelcome attention, he has also decided to protect his business with disarming grace. “I will print a board in order to apologise for this. I will put it up on my shop for everyone to see. I hope the name of the shop is not permanently tainted,” he said.

“We started getting calls on the number and some asked us to change what was written on the card. Some poked fun at us while several threatened to report the matter to the police,” Manna added.

Manna said some people made a beeline for the address to see if the shop indeed existed.

He showed one of the cards to a retired professor who visits his shop and asked him what it meant actually after the deluge of calls started.

Manna said he himself answered scores of calls in the past three days. Narayan Bera, the employee whose name is handwritten next to the phone number, said people from Delhi and Mumbai and “dur dur theke (far and wide)” had called on the number.

“I have had curious people peeping inside the shop. Several have stepped in and asked about the card. Then I switched off the number written on the card,” Manna said.

Manna has returned all the cards to the printer with a request to rectify the mistake.