Nepali Haircut

I got my hair cut yesterday.  I think that makes 7 countries where I’ve gotten one, 8 if you count the emergency beard removal in Guatemala.There is a barbershop in between the veggie market and one of the convenience-y stores that has stacks of eggs and bags of potato chips hanging on long strings.  It was empty when we got there, but the vigilant barber soon showed up with his burning eyes and scruffy white lab coat. I don’t know how to ask “Why are you wearing a lab coat?” in Nepali, so the mystery remains.

His high speed haircutting was precise but felt chaotic.  The scissors never stopped snipping, usually in a rhythm of three: the first in the hair, the last in the air, and the second wherever it needed to be.

Then he got out the straight razor and I tried to monitor myself for racism.  Did I feel more reassured when he changed the blade than I would have in America?  Did I pay extra attention to the authenticity of opening the packaging?  Would you find that justifiable?  Do I?

He tidied up the edges with expert strokes, which made me understand why barbers were the surgeons in the Middle Ages.  These guys know how to use a blade.  Then it was aftershave powder with one of those little brushes, followed by a ferocious pinch at the nape of my neck that felt almost punitive…what did I ever do to you, Barberji?

Then he started beating on my head, karate chops before fists that made my vision bounce epically while I tried to hold my neck firm.

Once my vision stabilized, he apparently forgave me and he apologized with a brusque but enthusiastic massage, sweeping his hands up and over my noggin, down the sides, then around my ears in a precise and practiced pattern that felt like a very confused form of reiki.

He reached his right hand across behind me to grasp the back left side of my head, then his left hand passed under my jaw to grab hold of my chin, then he tried to kill me by snapping my neck.  Like Antonio Banderas in that one bar brawl scene in Desperado.

You know that scene, right?

You know that scene, right?

Luckily my manly sinews were too much for him, and he stopped just past the point where my uppermost vertebrae crunched like a car accident.  He tried again on the other side while I focused on not flexing a muscle, trying hard to avoid thinking about the damage we might inadvertently cause.  The second time, on the other side, he went a small amount further before the skeletal implosions began, though a millimeter feels like serious business at that point.

My neck felt fine beforehand, but I swear afterwards, I could turn my head like a damn barn owl.

Leaving the barbershop to pick up some okra for tonight’s curry, and cookies for tomorrow morning’s tea, I felt that I got more smiles than normal; I think the locals approved of my local barbershop participation.  All it takes is an assassination attempt to endear you to the locals.