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‘I found myself in life': Armenian barber excels as a counsellor for his elderly compatriots

The following is a story by and is republished by Global Voices under a partnership agreement. Text and video by Anzhela Frangyan and Inna Mkhitaryan.

The 15m2 room is only for men. Located in the suburbs of Yerevan, Tolik’s Soviet-style barber shop is a place for them to relax: to tell their stories, discuss their worries — and cut their hair. The barber shop has become a refuge for men, a place to escape from the new-age beauty salons that have become increasingly popular in the capital.

Tolik, 67, is a respected figure for his customers, many of whom have trusted him for more than 40 years with their hair and their thoughts.  In Armenia’s male-dominated society, this barber shop is one of the very few places where men can be open about their vulnerabilities — including worrying about their hair and their appearance — without being concerned about appearing weak.

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