“Short back and sides” – when haircuts go awry…

that time I got my haircut in the dark...
that time I got my haircut in the dark…

One of the other things that is always a bit of a challenge as I move between countries is getting a haircut. Or it at least it is for me…

This musing comes after the realisation that each one of my haircuts over the last year have been in a different country (5 in all).

Think about how happy you are when you finally find a place that cuts your hair the way you like it. It’s great… And this is the place to stick with after that. Easy.

Throw in a different culture that is the backdrop for different ideas of fashion, what constitutes a good look, and often a pinch of equipment that seems to be designed to inflict pain rather than cut hair, you have some interesting obstacles to negotiate.

Oh, and I forgot to mention communication. Not everyone speaks English and I’m so rubbish at picking up languages. Trying to explain what you want by waving your arms around and rudimentary sign language (how do you say “half off the top” using your hands?!) would probably make the flies on the wall pee thier pants laughing.

It’s not always so traumatic… My haircut in Iraq was the best to date… Although I didn’t consider the slick rick hair swept back look very cool at all, much to the guy’s consternation. He was interesting too. Displaced from Baghdad years ago he’d decided to hang out in Erbil, despite the looming danger presented by ISIS a few kilometres south.

One of the worst experiences so far has been in Cairo.  Actually there were two haircuts there but as one was a corrective procedure (with the second almost as a hilarious experience as the first I consider the two as one pretty bizarre hairdressing debacle).

As I walked into the first empty salon the response from the “stylist” was perhaps the first warning – “we’re closed and I normally only cut women’s hair”. In a relatively segregated society I’m just glad no one was around to laugh as I walked into a women’s salon. I think he was just keen to try and cut a foreigners hair. At least he spoke some English… Although I still get a little nervous when it comes to someone saying “yes” I understand, when culturally it’s rude to say no.

Perhaps I would have saved myself some horror by just letting him get on with it, as 5mins in the power went out. Now, far from me to criticise someone for being underprepared, but 5 minutes after stumbling around in the dark to find the emergency light, having had the clippers grind to a halt in my hair, the emergency light started to stutter and fade… Great… Out came the cellphone and tablet for some illumination. Another painful 15 minutes of hacking and “styling” later I see that nothing is really straight and I’m fairly sure i have a Mohican. So rather than try and further explain and risk a length of hair that’s too short to fix, I give up and decide to find someone else….

To be continued…


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