Barber shop owner Serkan is a cut above
2018-11-01 12:58:51 -
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By Juliette Chantitch

 

Long before he went into the barber shop business, Serkan Sarihan discovered Dublin while visiting friends here on holiday in 2013.

“They wanted me to stay here, but it was impossible,” he says of that two-week visit. But the city and the country made an impression on the married father of a newborn boy.

“Two years later, I got a visa, and I came back,” he says of his new life in Dublin, which began on 18 June 2016.

Serkan found work at Sam’s Barbers on Upper Dorset Street and became such an asset to the business that, two years later, the owner asked him to take over the business.

As Serkan explains, he fell into the barber’s trade after a series of roles in the tourism sector in Turkey. He first learned to cut hair while serving in the Turkish army in 2010, then worked for six months as a barber in the western, more European side of the country.

Being a barber has only been “a proper job” for Serkan for two years now, he says. And the accidental entrepreneur has ambitions to change career into another field of business.

But for now, he is busy with Sam’s as he continues to adapt to life in Dublin.

Serkan works five or six days a week, and saves his spare hours for quality time with his family. A pint after work, like many Irish people enjoy, is not for him.

“In Turkey, we would go visit each other. Family, friends, they won’t just go for drinks. Social life back home is so different than here,” he says.

Serkan admits it is hard to find the same type of friendships he has in Turkey here in Dublin. “I don’t hang around with any Turkish people here, except for my work friend. The friends I have back home, we grew up together, we went to the army together.

“I have a friend back there, we have known each other more than 20 years. I have a few friends over here, but it’s never going to be the same.”

Serkan thinks some aspects of his home country deeply need to change. As a Kurd, he notes how his people have been oppressed by the Turkish government. Back in the 1980s, speaking his mother tongue was punishable by imprisonment.

“There is no fairness, no human rights at all,” he says. “If you have money, nobody can touch you, you’ve got your freedom.”

Since he’s been in Ireland, however, Serkan says the contrast is striking, and that he has never felt discriminated against or prejudged. He describes Dublin as a place belonging to a thousand nationalities, cultures and religions.

“Nobody cares of each other’s colour, language, if you are from the east side, the west side,” he says. “There are always racist people for some reason, but in two years spent in Dublin, it never happened to me.”

And yet, Serkan knows he will leave Dublin someday to go back to Turkey and join the rest of his family and friends.

“I’d like to go back to my hometown, my home country, to my family,” he says. “I don’t know when that will happen. It’s a difficult situation, when you move to another country by yourself, without anything. You just do your best, to survive on your own, not becoming a homeless person. You have to do your best, you have to fight for your future.

“I was homeless myself for four months back home in Istanbul. I know what that’s like. It’s very hard.”

 

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