One of the things about travelling long term is the constant change in routine. I remember when I was living back in South Africa and moving from one suburb to another. It felt traumatic. I had to shop at another grocery store and had to drive an new way to work. Big stuff. Not being in one place for more than a few months, as I have been over the past year, means that you seldom get to shop in the same store or create formal routines that I had been used to.
Back home one routine was haircuts. Always “the hair colonel” same price, same service, same strong coffee. No difference. In the last 13 months I think back to my previous haircut, think about where I was and who I was with. Haircuts seem to be miles apart (literally). A haircut has become a bit of a milestone.
I have had expensive (20 Euros in Split before going sailing on yacht week), to super cheap ($2 in Rishikesh India for an hour and a half cut, shave, thread, backrub and head massage extravaganza). I now make it my mission to select a barber / hairdresser which is the smallest little “hole in the wall”. These places tend to be the cheapest (most of the time they ask how much you’d like to pay), and always ends up being an experience.
This doesn’t come without its mishaps. One lady “hairdresser” in Sri Lanka, had a mirror and plastic chair setup on the one the one side of her husband’s tattoo shop. The shop couldn’t have been more than 10SQM and I don’t’ think would have had enough space for more than three people. Which means it couldn’t be both a tattoo shop and hairdresser at the same time. Unless the tattoo artist cut hair while also doing some ink on the third person in the shop. I’ve never cut hair so can’t judge, or make fair comment, but this lady looked as though it was the first time she’d held both a comb and scissors in her hands at the same time. She then kept swapping the two pieces of equipment uncomfortably between her hands as though if she held either of them for too long they might burn her. I sat watching her “learn” for almost an hour as she proceeded to cut the largest step into my hair. I had asked for it to be “blended” / “faded” … but should have expected this outcome as she simple answered said “yes” to anything I asked her. I later had to get Simon to fix my hair with beard clippers.
Today I had my fourth haircut in Nepal (all have been at different establishments). I got a decent hair practioner. I gave him my normal request, and he then went to work and cut a “number 1 1/2” on the sides and perfectly blended into the top. He then created a “number one” on my beard in record time all without ever using clippers. He, unlike my Sri Lankan apprentice, looked like the scissors were an extension of his hands. He was amazing.
There is one thing that I find consistent with hairdressers, all over the world though. The style give you at the end of the haircut before sending you out into the world, always seems to be miles away from what I would normally do. Today my scissor wizard was no different.
Tomorrow I leave Nepal – and head to India. I’m going to rent a motorbike and do a road trip up to Spiti Valley for 2 weeks before going to Thailand. I am not going to start on my experiences in Nepal – it needs a post all on it’s own.
If you’ve made it all the way down to the bottom here thanks …
PS: Please continue to share posts and spread the word about our fundraiser project Nepal 425. I’m leaving Nepal, but this is far from being done! Watch this space.