India's traditional roadside ear de-waxers, called kaan saaf wallahs, are known by the red handkerchiefs on their heads. They charge around 15 cents per ear, and one ear cleaner interviewed by the LA Times says he gets about 12 customers per day. He lives in a room shared by 15 men.
The deluxe treatment can include daubs of lotion, coconut oil and a dark liquid that Mehboob described as an ayurvedic tonic, and costs 50 rupees, or 80 cents.
"That's if the ear is inflamed, or if it's really red," [Sayed Mehboob] says. "The lotions provide a soothing effect."
His method is to dip the cotton-tipped pin in hydrogen peroxide and scrape the outer ear canal before proceeding to the inner canal. An old pair of tweezers helps pick out stubborn bits of dirt and wax.
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