It’s been two months since I got my hair trimmed, so I figured today was the day to see how the locals do it. I went to one of the barber shops close by, hopped in and asked if they had any free times. This friendly looking guy waves me to his chair, great! His active English vocabulary was quite limited but with a few gestures and a photo of my last visit to the barber we reached a consensus of what the desired outcome was.
The place had a nice decor. My seat was was one of six, four of which were occupied. The shop was cozy and had a friendly, neighbourhood barber kind of feel to it. The walls were mostly white and orange, with the occasional splash of pinkish purple. In one corner, above the mirrors, an old TV was playing some Indian movie with frequent bizarre plot twists and overdramatic conversations.
The barber started doing his stuff. He had no electric trimmers so the entire cut was done with scissors alone, and man his fingers were fast doing it. Very precise too, with those scissors one false move could result in a Vulcan ear.
Not too long after that it was done. Of course the end result wasn’t as sharp as what I’d get at Nik’s Barber Shop, but I was nevertheless quite pleased with it.
Head massage? he asked. Wha- um yeah sure! I replied. He took out a can of Figaro olive oil, showed it and asked if I was ok with it. Sure, I haven’t had olive oil in my hair in a while, go ahead, I said. So he poured about twice the amount I usually put in my frying pan on the top of my head and started massaging. It was a bit more violent than what I had expected but relaxing nevertheless. He would switch to massaging my shoulders and even my back.
Does anyone remember the Nintendo Power Glove from the 90’s? It was this awesome looking glove that had a controller and some other gizmo stuck to the back of the glove hand. This guy picked out something that resembles that, a kind of hand strap with something that used to be a kitchen mixer stuck to the backhand side, and plugged it into the outlet. It was a vibrator. So now he was massaging my scalp with his hand, which was vibrating with such force that I had to keep my mouth closed to keep my teeth from hitting each other.
He then proceeded to massage my ears as well, inching towards the ear canal and – hiyoo! – his finger was in my ear. And not just the tip either, he was really getting in there and digging for the gold, hand still vibrating thanks to the power glove. A real wet willie. It was surprising so say the least, I couldn’t do anything else but laugh. In western culture this would have been a slight breach of bodily integrity, but I didn’t think too much about it. Funny and awkward is all it was.
The fact that this haircut, which had turned to a head massage, then progressed to a full arm and lower back massage felt much less weird after that. It was effectively an upper body massage. Some squeezing, clapping and thudding later we were done. I felt bewildered but relaxed and my hair was alright – not a bad outcome from a visit to the barber!
I hung around a bit before continuing with the evening, and the barber mentioned that he does full body massages as well. In the barber shop. I’m not even that surprised anymore.