Sometimes it’s nice to be pampered: to go to a spa and relax with a hot stone treatment, deep tissue massage, and the whole works. Sometimes it’s just nice to be able to get a haircut. Living abroad can make doing these kinds of things difficult.
Recently, I went to a local Nepali barbershop to get my haircut and I was reminded of all the other haircuts we’ve tried to get since living overseas. In Korea, I couldn’t get the stylist at the salon I went to with my buddy Luke to agree to the haircut I wanted. Perhaps it was the language barrier, or perhaps he knew what I wanted and simply refused to give it to me. Either way, I never went back and didn’t try getting my haircut anywhere else since then. Until now.
In China, I didn’t get my haircut, but Jen did (she didn’t in Turkey, what with her coworkers all wearing hijabs, she didn’t have anyone to ask about salons). It cost her very little money and the stylist spent the better part of an hour working her hair over and she looked glorious when it was all said and done. He did an amazing job for practically pennies. He cut it, styled it, layered it, thinned it, blew it out, and did whatever else it is that you ladies always get done at the salon.
See, my hair is simple and I own my own set of clippers so 99% of the time, I just do it myself. I cut my own hair in Turkey, in China, and in Spain. However, trying to give myself a trim here at the monastery would prove to be a hassle. We don’t really have our own living space: essentially living a dormitory lifestyle, we have a room and a bathroom and we get our meals in a dining hall. But we don’t really have the money to spend on cleaning products (volunteers that we are) and I don’t really feel like having to stoop down and pick pieces of my hair up one at a time off the floor. On top of that, our bathroom is minuscule, I would have more room if I used the outdoor shared bathroom in our old building. However, then I have to worry about the cold, the inadequate lighting, and potential people walking in on me while I’m half-naked and shaving my head.
It’s just not going to work.
So I went to get it done. And what an experience it was. The salon – spelled Sailoon on the window – was a dirty, one room business on the corner at the bottom of the hill beneath the monastery. The owner is a young twenty-something who took over the family business from his father. He’s been cutting hair since he was nine years old. He sat me down, flipped the skirt thing around me, and asked me what I wanted. I told him and he began with the clippers, but he didn’t last long with them. He quickly switched to the scissors and comb.
His deft fingers flew across my scalp, faster than anyone’s ever cut my hair before. But I wasn’t scared he was going to cut me; he was simply that good. It was like Edward Scissorhands or something. He got halfway through my haircut and then declared a five minute tea break. He went next door and came back with a glass of tea for me and one for himself. He sat next to me chatting in his very broken and difficult to understand English. Super nice guy.
After we finished our tea, he commenced my haircut. When he was finished, he asked me if I liked it and I told him I did. He then proceeded to massage my scalp. I thought that was all I was going to get but when he was finished with my scalp, he moved to my forehead and eyelids and then down the back of my neck. He massaged my neck, back, arms, hands, and even cracked my knuckles on both hands. Following the massage and the haircut, he then moved into style mode. He put three products in my hair: gel, pomade, and hairspray – all of which he applied using a blow dryer. When I left, I looked like a movie star. I guess that’s what you get when your barber has been cutting hair since he was in the single digits.
I’m sorry to have to report this back to you guys in the States who pay upwards of $20 (for men) and $60 (for women) just to get your haircuts. But this very able barber charges his Nepali clients a total of 50 rupees (50 cents) for their haircuts. I felt generous after such a good job. I gave him $3.00.
Until Next Time…