Ahead of Saturday ‘mulaqaat’, inmates throng Tihar beauty parlour

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The parlour inside Tihar’s Jail No. 6 is run by inmates.

Between 9 am and noon on a muggy day earlier this week, at least 22 clients had visited Grace Beauty Parlour for hair cuts, threading, face-packs and fruit facials.

“It has been busy, but the biggest rush is on Fridays,” said the 34-year-old woman from Manipur at the parlour that opened inside Tihar’s Jail no. 6, which houses women inmates, some two months ago.

Fridays are busy because Saturdays are “mulaqaat” days for inmates inside the women’s jail. “Members of the inmates’ families — husbands, children, parents, siblings — visit on Saturdays, and the women want to look their best, often for their children… It’s been quite successful,” Sarita Sabharwal, superintendent of the women’s jail, said.

Jail no. 6 has, in fact, had a parlour for years. Grace Beauty Parlour is an extension of the existing one — bigger, with more sophisticated machines, and more services. The older parlour provided only limited services.

The inmate from Manipur, an undertrial prisoner in Tihar, manages the parlour from 9 am to 5 pm every day, along with two other undertrial women. The Manipuri woman faces charges of peddling drugs, the other two women are accused in cases of murder. A 30-year-old woman jail matron watches over them as they go about their business.

“There are scissors, tweezers, nail filers at the parlour. I keep them locked, and hand them over to the team of three when they’re needed. I also manage a product log, and buy the things that the women clients want. Bindis, mehendi, and plastic bangles are currently in high demand, so I need to re-stock those,” the matron said.

A rate card for services hangs inside the parlour. Nailcutting services cost Rs 5, a scrub Rs 30, streaks Rs 200, and a “VLCC facial”, Rs 450.

The Manipuri woman, who has been in Tihar for over two years, said that she worked in beauty parlours in Delhi and Bengaluru for eight years before circumstances brought her to Tihar Jail. “When I began working at this parlour, I told my family that from 9 am to 5 pm, I feel like I am not even lodged inside a jail,” she said.

From noon to 3 pm every day, Jail no. 6 is in lockdown, with inmates inside the barracks. That is the time for jail staff to avail of services at the parlour.

The air-conditioned room has parlour chairs, a hair steamer for head spas, hair dryers, a facial bed, a choice of Aroma and VLCC face products, and a wide range of nail paint, the most popular product.

Since June, at least 72 bottles of nail paint have been used at the parlour, the matron said, going through the register. “For the Saturday mulaqaat, most women request red nail paint. When they have a court hearing outside Tihar, they seem to like transparent paint the most, and foreigners want black nail paint,” the matron said.