I feel like a new man. Today I was able to get a haircut, wear a short-sleeved shirt (high temp of 70ºF, wow) and get vaccinated against COVID-19! The vaccination center even gave me a sticker :-). I lucked into the J&J vaccine so, after a two-week waiting period, I’m good to go!
Unfortunately, I was coming due for a haircut just as Switzerland closed all the barbershops (and other services*) on March 16. Although Switzerland re-opened barbershops and nail salons on April 27, it was only yesterday that I finally decided to give it a chance and get a haircut (Haareschneiden), 15 weeks after my prior haircut. I picked a cheap place near the university, put on my brand-new mask, and headed in. The barber was wearing a mask, and sanitized his hands between customers, but otherwise there appeared to be few of the protective measures I’d expected. Still, the haircut came out well, and now I’m set for another couple months.
* thelocal.ch, March 16: “Postal and banking services can remain open, as well as outlets offering take-away or delivery food, though hairdressers, barbers and prostitutes were among those told to shut down activities.” – Wait, what?
Last week I saw one upscale hair salon trying to lure customers with champagne al fresco. Maybe I should have gone there…
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.
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