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Colourful celebration planned to mark 50th birthday : 

If I was a rich man!

by Prasad Abu Bakr

The story of Ramzi Rahaman is a simple event that can be made into a colossal happening but to do that one needs a lot of people that love and care for you not by weaving a false facade but by seeing the true Ramzi, not the hairdresser and bridal dresser alone but being able to look beyond Ramzi of today.

His colourful past is what made that little boy travel an arduous journey from a simple home from Dematagoda [as the writer himself], to the status of being the official hairdresser of Her Excellency the President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Dancing his way to fame

My knowledge of Ramzi was first fostered by an extremely sweet Burgher lady by the name of Irene Melder who was a fabulous seamstress. Her clothes were the toast of the area where she lived, down Kent Road in Dematagoda. In fact I lived in the adjoining Albion Road also in Dematagoda and I never heard of this Ramzi Rahaman who was destined to become one of Sri Lanka's master hairdressers. It was Irene Melder the grand old lady of sewing that told me the news of this blossoming genius.

Ramzi's flare for his current profession did not materialise like a flash in the pan. It was a lot of hard work and sacrifice but there was one good ingredient that helped Ramzi achieve what he has achieved today, his great love for art. In fact, if one broad base his career and look for answers as to why he became a sensational hairdresser of this era one would find that it was his great inclination towards art, his ability to draw the various hairstyles that haunted his imagination and what made him in to a creative and most sought after hairdresser and bridal designer of our country.

A past student of Carey College Ramzi humbly confesses that he was a lousy student when it came to sums and numbers. His Father was surprised that his son was so aloof from his Arithmetic as Ramzi's father himself was a respected senior accountant at McClaren's, a leading shipping line. So young Ramzi tried his hand at painting under the guidance of a great master, Ivor Baptist. Even though his art teacher was a well-known landscape artist young Ramzi used his master's techniques to produce what he fancied most, portraits of women, projecting unlimited glamour which was what Ramzi's dream was all about.

In parallel to his obsession with art he also watched his aunt's doing hairstyles on each other. This was probably the most fascinating period in the young creative man's life. The need to explore was more than the need to seek the future. So at a very young age, while building up a reputation as a creative hairstylist Ramzi felt the need to realize the base to what was to become his life-long passion, hairdressing.

Ramzi with his mother

His first ever teacher was a lady by the name of Logi Mariyathasan who was a student of Janet Balasooriya. Logi who was a polio stricken hairdresser flatly refused to take over the young boy as she explained that she was not prepared to undertake the task of introducing males into her profession. After many an appeal Ramzi was accepted. In between these tasks Ramzi was building his career up by attending to private clients, visiting them at their homes and attending to their hair, styling, pampering and experimenting making sure that he did not cause much harm to his newly found clients.

After much experimenting and error Ramzi Rahaman opened his first ever hairdressing salon in the city. Dr. and Mrs. Seevali Ratwatte and their daughter Lakmini Wijewardena were the chief guests. That was a head start for somebody who was not willing to take a back seat.

He drove himself through to the point of proving his mettle in his chosen field. Since then The Ramzi Rahaman Salon has dressed not only his many clientele from all walks of life but people who belonged to a certain amount of recognition within that network. Miss Universe 1997 Brook Lee, Mrs. World 1984 Rosy Senanayake and actress Malini Fonseka have been some of his reputed clients. In fact so regarded is his work that he has remained hair and beauty consultant to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and her family for well over 26 years.

Languishing in all his glory Ramzi still believes that he is not rich enough for the kind of contributions he has made throughout his career. He has shared his unstinted glory with his dear family, which has been his major concern. His Mother, a stylish Malay lady was his major influence throughout his childhood. Her ability to adorn herself with impeccable taste caught Ramzi's eye from almost the period that she was rocking him in his cradle. It is a great feeling to sit back and realize how one's family can inspire and raise one to such great heights of success and in the case of Ramzi it is a fact that has stood out as a pillar of great bearing.

Tomorrow 11th, the great hairdresser will celebrate his 50th birthday in great style at a colourful event planned for him by Emphasis, the event's co-ordinators in collaboration with Explore Sri Lanka, a leading travel magazine. Also a personal web site for the hairdresser will be officially launched at this event which will be held at the Ceylon Continental Hotel.

As much as he has struggled to build up his steady career Ramzi has contributed in a big way by appearing at workshops and seminars, not only in Colombo but also in rural areas for the sake of charity. He does not repent these things as he feels that these are important events in one's life as human beings.

To look after one's folk is a great privilege, says Ramzi but the ability to carry out these commitments will necessarily call for a large financial outpour. `That can be achieved only if I am blessed with unlimited resources and if I was a rich man, but as for the moment I contribute in the best way I can for the simple reason that the greatest human resource which is love will always steer ahead of the most sought after financial gain.

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