If you’re like me, a good massage is a must every now and then… If for no other reason then just to get away from the hustle and bustle of Karachi life… 45-minutes of no work, no friends, no family, and perhaps most importantly — no phone.

Clifton-based N-Gents is a ‘Barber Shop’ I’d long-been dying to check out. I use the term ‘Barber Shop’ because it’s how they like to refer to themselves though the reality is in fact, very different…

(Cue Bond music)

From the second you walk in the door you are transported to a different era in Men’s grooming. N-Gents is ‘A Man’s Place’ – Everything from the hardwood floors and leather table-tops, to the high-tech coffee machine and selection of lads mags screams ‘this is a place for A MAN’.

It’s obvious the team at N-Gents work exceptionally hard to create this very butch, old-school, Al Capone-esque atmosphere… My guess is they do this so most men (like myself) don’t feel so insecure when we’re being lathered-up with flowery-scented oils, moringa creams and aromatic facial scrubs. It becomes apparently clear that the boys aren’t just there to provide a service… They’re there to create for you an entire grooming experience.

The Good:

The place itself is fucking luuuuuuuush! I’ve been to a few men’s salons, in London, in New York, in Dubai but none that boasted the same aesthetic appeal and sense of hospitality I found at N-Gents. First thing when you walk in the door you are greeted with an ice-cold beverage of your choosing. Wanna smoke a Benson while you wait? That too can be arranged…

The staff is extremely polite and hella accommodating and the word ‘No’, just does not seem to be part of their vocabulary!

The Bad:

Though many of you may not agree, this next point is something I feel quite strongly about… When I visit a place that’s known for providing a particular product/service, it’s important to me that they provide that product/service well.

So, when I visit a place like Nihari Inn, I have no problem if the Chicken Ginger isn’t quite up-to-the-mark, so long as the Nihari is *bangin… When I visit a place like MOOSAJEES, it’s OK if their selection of ties is somewhat limited, so long as they stitch one helluva suit. I think you see where I’m going with this…

The only qualm I had of my N-Gents experience was that the services I went in there for – a Classic shave and a Champi massage – didn’t leave me feeling relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated as a salon experience should… Instead, it left me feeling incomplete.

Granted this was mostly due to the massage… A traditional Champi massage focuses on all the areas that collect tension in the upper body, so by concentrating on the head, neck, shoulders and upper back it should make for a soothing and nurturing, yet totally invigorating experience. Sadly, this one didn’t quite live up to that reputation and by the end of it (I never thought I’d say this) I was glad it was over.

The Verdict:

So, it wasn’t necessarily the best grooming experience of my life… But, like for many foreign-grads who return to the homeland and often miss the ‘shashkas’ of first-world living, N-Gents steps in to help fill in a gaping hole that up until very recently, would’ve only proceeded to get bigger!