I don’t know about you, but I HATE getting my hair cut. I never seem to have the time to do it between work and family distractions. Once I DO make the time, I always struggle to figure out how to tell the stylist what I want. No matter what I say, it always seems that either it gets cut too short and I have to wait weeks before I like the look or they leave it too long and within a week it looks shaggy again. I have had this same issue for years now. Just think how much worse it is now that I am in a foreign country and working 12+ hours each day!
Before I left in January I made sure I got my hair cut shortly before leaving. After that I came home for a “conjugal visit” each 2 months so I just got it cut at my usual place back in Florida. Now that the family is here though, I am not traveling back to the US regularly so it has been getting increasingly long making me feel like Shaggy from Scooby Doo!!!
I have been complaining for weeks now that I needed to get it cut while Stacy was claiming that she was going to start putting Ender’s hair up in Pig Tails. Even Ender’s Grandma commented on how long his hair looked in the pictures on the site.
Today was a holiday for us in India so we took the kids for a nice long walk. Earlier I had planned on driving out to one of the up scale salons I have heard about. Co-workers were telling me I could get a cut for between 500 and 750- Rupees ($12-$18 USD) which they feel is expensive but that’s what I paid to our local Cost Cutters back home so I was fine with it. The issue – Time. Just like back home, I never seem to find the chance to slip out. I am either working or playing with the kids (today it was another Zelda Marathon on the Nintendo Wii). So by about 2pm Stacy was going stir crazy and delicately suggested we go for a walk (did you detect the sarcasm around the word delicately?). So we all got dressed and headed out for an adventure.
The weather was very nice. Not too hot, not too cold. The streets were crowded but nothing new there. We walked for about a mile or so and stopped to check out a local sweets shop where the kids had a donut-like dessert soaked in sugar water. We also checked out a gift and novelty shop and a furniture shop where Addie found a living room set she loved since it was black leather with tiger striped pillows. Then as we were walking back up a side street I saw a little barber shop and thought: “What the heck, it will always grow back!!”. After checking with Stacy to see if she wanted to have Ender’s hair cut (I barley finished asking before she repeated “yes yes yes!!!”) I marched us up the steps and into “Arvind Hair Dressers”.
The experience of the hair cut in India is of course just a bit different than it is in the US. Gone are the big jars of combs soaking in what I always assumed was Windex. I couldn’t find any electric razors our over sized magazines filled with the latest GQ styles. There were no little old ladies sitting in the back under the brain sucking torture chair (I think someone told me that was actually a drier but I like my idea better). What was the same? Barber chairs (though a little older than I am used to), Drapes to wrap around the victim, combs, scissors and of course, the straight razor!! More on that to come.
So, Ender and I walked in and my plan was to see how his cut went before entrusting my hair to them – heck, he is a kid and can pull off a wacky cut better than I can and besides, these days I have less and less hair to risk!! There were two gentlemen there when we went in (Stacy thinks the guy who in the back is Arvind – I am not convinced). I pointed to Ender and asked for a cut. With nary a word they placed a board over the arm rests of the chair (booster seat you see) and plopped him up. 1 minute later and Ender was draped and ready to go. I must say, Ender was VERY good about the whole thing. I started to explain what I wanted – same thing, only less. As I was trying to explain this, the other gentlemen came to me and pointed and said “Cut”? In for a penny, in for a pound. I tried to say “Yes, after him” and point to Ender, still hoping to insure my cut would turn out ok, but my meaning was lost. He gently nudged me over to the next chair and strapped me in. He looked at me inquisitively and so I tried my usual: “Short on the back and sides, long on top, especially the back where i have a colic and blend it a little high on the sides so it is not too drastic a change”. His response as he came at me with the scissors: “Me no English”. Crap.
So by this point I am wondering what I have done. Ender is already started and the hair is flying. His hair REALLY WAS long. 3-4 inch chunks were blowing past me! So, I thought maybe I could get the meaning across in that universal Tarzan mode of speech I have had to use with my drivers in the past. I pointed at the sides and said “Side Short”. I pointed at the top and then said “Top Longer” and placed my fingers about 3 inches apart. He nodded with a semi clear look and started forward when I realized, that hand gesture could mean how long to keep it (what I meant) or how much to cut which would have left me looking somewhat like my Dad after missing 1 or 2 trips to Walt’s (those that know him know what I mean – No offense Dad!!). So in an emergency effort to stave off a potential fashion disaster, I yanked on my hair, pulled it straight and then made cutting motions at the length I wanted. I did this in a couple areas around my head. This seemed to make sense to him and we were off.
Through the whole experience Ender was great. He sat there as good as can be and let the man twist and turn his head as needed to get at him from all angles. He never flinched or turned away even though the constant snipping of those shears was over powering. That is until the last phase came which is usually his favorite. The cleanup trim. You know, where they bring out the clippers and straighten around your ears and the back of your hair? I must admit I like it too since those clippers kind of massage your neck and the sound tickles the ears. Not so in India. Remember above when I mentioned there were no clippers? Here it was the combination Straight Razor and Box Cutter. It LOOKED like a Straight Razor but it used those square blades you find in Box Cutters and Paint Scrappers. Ender was NOT comfortable with that and to be honest, neither was I! I saw Stacy come in about halfway through Ender’s Shave and from the mirror I could see the blood drain from her face. Not that it was a razor exactly. Not that it looked like Ender was in danger of being hurt, but because she didn’t see where the razor came from! Now not to keep you in suspense, fear not. I watched and they DID change the razor for both of us before using it. I saw new blades unwrapped and the old thrown in a trash receptacle. To wind this up a bit, the cutting continued, the shaving followed which was tense for me as well. I am NOT comfortable with someone else holding a razor to my skin, I don’t care WHO it is! Before we knew it we were done. I was nick free and proud to be. Ender though did suffer a small nick to the back of his neck which the barber applied a septic gel to. By this point Stacy was very agitated. Once she saw the blood (just a spot, really!), I had to rush to her and tell her that it WAS a new razor and not to worry. I think she made me repeat myself 3 times before she was convinced. I turned around and asked how much for both? (lots pf pantomiming here) and was told: “70 Rupees”! That is about 1 dollar and 30 cents!! That was for BOTH! And to be honest, we both look great! We will definitely be going back there next time too! Not so sure about Stacy and Addie though…
The moral here is that while India is NOT the US, while the things we were used to back home often don’t exist here or are so different as to seem alien, that does NOT mean they are bad. Just different! To be honest, I think this cut was better than any I have had in the last 10 years! Yea India!! Judge for yourself!