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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Haircut-Epilogue

Now where was I?....oh yes, I was walking up the stairs of this Men's Saloon uncertain what I would find up there. The ground floor was certainly unfinished and barren. All that was missing was a "Pardon Our Dust" sign. You never see these types of  signs over here even though EVERYTHING is under construction and there is plenty of dust to go around even if there was no construction happening. Back in America, those signs seem to be polite but I don't think the sentiment is really sincere. It's too much like one of those sappy Hallmark cards.

Anyway, when I got to the top of the stairs, I was pleasantly surprised. There were 3 or 4 Indian barbers standing around, and the the place looked like a normal barbershop. The most important thing is there was no no one waiting. I hate waiting! As much as I miss my barber in Utah, I sometimes had to wait up to an hour and a half to get a haircut depending on the time of day. That was really irritating but I put up with it because he did a good job and I didn't want to "break-in" a new one.

So, I did the scissors hand signal and the closest guy motioned for me toward his cubicle. And what a cubicle it was! There was a giant, classic barber chair that I like, the space had a sink and  large displays of hair products on the counter. It was very clean and even had curtains for privacy. An ashtray was thoughtfully provided (try THAT in the U.S.!) but I didn't partake. The icing on the cake was that there was a 32" LCD flat screen TV mounted over the mirror connected to a satellite receiver!

My fears gone, I sat in the chair and the barber commenced to tape my neck and drape me in the usual cloth thing as I leaned back and started enjoying some Clint Eastwood movie on the TV. The barber then asked me in broken English how I wanted my hair cut. This was the part I dreaded due to the language barrier. He asked "half?' and I just nodded. 

He took his time and seemed very detail oriented. Clippers, scissors and a dry shave around the hairline with a straight razor that concerned me a little. I had these before but with lather. The guy was definitely good as no blood was shed. When he was finished I had the mirror inspection and all was well. Then things turned to the unfamiliar.

He asked me if I wanted a head massage. I thought "why not? and agreed thinking that it would be just the rubbing of my temples and my scalp. Besides, I am always up for something new. So he started banging my cranium with the palms of his hands and would rub the sides of my head and make a loud clapping sound in between moves. This was cool, as it was relaxing and despite some of the more aggressive moves giving me momentary double vision, my sinuses were starting to loosen.

As I sat in the chair earlier during the actual haircut, I noticed big jars of goop on the counter near the sink. I recognised one of these products as cocoa butter but the other jars contained a multicolored substance with an Indian language label on it. I didn't think much of it until my barber grabbed on of these jars from the counter and opened it. Whoa Nellie, I thought the massage was over. Apparently not as this guy proceeded to dip handsful of the multicolored stuff and apply it to what was left of my hair. When that was done, same thing with the cocoa butter. Both had the consistency of SAE 90 axle grease but thankfully smelled better.

Ok, I was sitting there with all this crap on my head and the guy leaves the room. I sat there wondering what's next? To my horror, he returns with one of those big hair drying machines on wheels that has a clear plastic dome on top that you usually see the old, blue-haired ladies using to set their permanents. He lowers it over my head, sets it on HIGH and leaves the room again. Meanwhile, the goop starts to melt and after 10 minutes he comes back and turns it off just before the melted stuff on my head drips it's way down my neck and ruins my shirt.

It turns out well though, after the heat treatment he gave me a shampoo and almost all traces of the mystery muck was gone. He did a good job with the haircut and I gave him a generous tip but I don't think I will go the option of the head massage again. All in all, I spent almost 2 hours there and the final cost was 50 Dirhams or $13. Not bad in my book! 

Now I just have to figure out who to call or where to go if I get a sudden toothache or happen to break a bone. Nothing here is intuitional for the expat.


Neil Roberts said...

I live in Muhammed bin Zayed City, nr Mussafah commmercial area, which is where I go for my haircuts. Now, mine is easy - no.2 clipper all over! But with a head massage included it comes to AED10! Result!

Ace said...

I have had a haircut at the same place from a different barber and got a "dry" scalp massage with no extra charge. 15AED.

I don't know of the first guy just made something up because he was bored or not, I was the only customer in the shop on that Saturday. I was surprised they were even open at all. Might have got charged the "Westerner's Rate" too.

Even though it was a good show, never again!

By the way, I am almost as militant about the bad driving habits here as you are. It literally curtails my life as I reconsider getting into that mess everytime I get the urge to drive somewhere.