A haircut

A haircut and an experience.

I had my last haircut just before we left NH, and it was getting desperately shaggy.   Fortunately, IISc has many services available on campus.  Most or all are independent vendors, who set up shop in rented nooks here and there.  Travel agents, banks, tailors, beauty salons, photocopies, vegies, milk, bread, you name it. So, I tried the men’s salon at the little marketplace near our apartment.  I was nervous that either a) it would be unsanitary or b) they would not understand my request and I’d get a bad haircut.

Arish, who appears to be the owner, speaks good English, though his partner (who cut my hair) does not.  Arish translated and explained what I wanted.  The other man snipped away with what seemed to be 100-year-old scissors, while Arish chatted and worked on another customer.  He asked where I was from, how long I was staying, how old I am, and why I have a scar on the back of my neck.  In general, I find Indians to be much more willing to ask such questions than Americans, who avoid such “personal” questions.

Anyway, the result was a very good haircut.  When that was done, he pulled out his straight razor – those things always make me nervous – and shaved the back of my neck.  Finally, he dusted me off with a gentle brush and talcum powder.  The price? 20 rupees! (40 cents, at today’s rate.)  On the other hand, they used the same dirty scissors and comb as for the previous guy, so as a precaution I washed my hair when I got back home.

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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