If it was 500 bucks for an hair cut I would have never ever walked even in the street where the salon was. But being when you are in the dollar country you are supposed to stop doing conversion ateast for certain things like this. Else they will creep around your ears and start twitching.
Initially I had some hesitations to spend and even hiked to an hill top for an hour, instead of giving 35 cents which could have transported me in 5 minutes. But you get used with ‘no conversions’ at occasions like food and basic things like hair cut which you cant avoid. Yes onions cost 150 per kg but if you tend to avoid them in your food you know what it tastes like. Hair cut is one such thing!
And it has been two months here and even my special onsite hair cut (I request my barber to cut them as short as he could the day before I boarded my flight here.) couldnt prevent it from demanding one more. And initial acquaintances told me that it may cost neary 20$ for an hair cut. Oh I am just sport a long hair I could save enough for umpteen outings in Chennai. But then my good friends led me to a street where they have it for 10 dollars.
It was one hot saturday and I had to cross those barber shops to get to my library. I thought of having the hair cut on my way back only to find most shops to be closed. After rambling around for a while I found a shop. The people in the shop spoke some language which I couldnt decipher but they spoke english too. I asked them “How much” for which the response was 10. A sound of relief whispered “Within my budget!” and I sat down to wait till they were ready.The two ladies were pedicuring another young english woman and I was watching all three for a while only soon to be bored. I thought they will service my head after painting the white girls nails. But I was wrong, the barber lady was inside and she came out like an astronaut on a mission with her whole face covered. I wondered why and in two seconds the answer popped out in a wheel chair. She was handling an old woman who seemed to be sick. I checked my bag and I knew that I dont have a mask like the barber and I couldn’t take the risk of sharing the sick air. (They cut the already ‘paltry’ allowance if I take leave) . So I waved them good bye sighing that I didnt have any more time to wait.
My bad luck, all other shops were closed and I walked back and found a shop. It didnt quite look like a barber shop and there were no one inside. A lady was trimming her hair on her own and I asked her whether I can get a hair cut here. She pulled in another lady from nowhere and said she will do it for you. A lady to cut my hair – thats the first time in my life. I dont know whether my mom has ever cut my hair:)
There were no sign boards and I asked here how much it’s going to cost me. She said 15 dollars and since this is the first time you are coming here I could give you 20% discount and it would come to …..something something. I said to myself I cant wait another week for this and it’s worth giving the extra money.She asked whether the rates are fine for me and I told its fine which brought smile and surprise in her face.I knew its boring for you to read it but i didnt write it for you:)
We exchanged pleasantries and names and she took me to the shampoo table and washed my hair. She asked me how do I prefer and I gave her instructions. She asked when did I get my last hair cut and I lied like a sheep that it was four weeks back. Man … never lie to the professionals about their profession for they know the truth better than you. She asked me whether hair grows faster for me. We discussed everything about the sun and under it. She was surprised on hearing that people donating their hair to their god in India and she said that most of the long hair sold in America were from Indian woman who tonsures their head. The conversation continued and her eyes and concentration were on my head and her scissors winnowed out the hairs at right length. We talked about the neighborhood,hollywood , Bald heads and computers. She guaranteed that I have good density and wont be bald any sooner. I looked little better and felt lot better after the cut. She led me back to the shampoo table and gave a cool bath again.
Having done everything it was time to finish it off with thanks and the dollars. I gave her a 20 dollar note and she asked me for 20 more. She said it was forty. Oh Boy 2000 rupees for my hairs, I better let them grow and became a thiruvaluvar.I reminded her I did ask her the cost and it was 15 then. She said back that it was 50 and not 15. For a moment I was under a confusion whether I am being cheated since I have told her my history that I am new to this place. Of course I had an element of doubt whether she was right and I heard it wrong. Inspite of seeing hundreds of movies its difficult to follow certain peoples accent. But I was in no position to pay 2k for my hair. I told her again if i had known its 50 I wont have stepped in. I thought there was going to be a little argument. But she thought for a while with the smiles still on her face. She asked whether 20 would do. Oh how cruel she is ? She is trying to make most out of me? I told her that I walked in with 10 in mind and I agreed to her slightly increased price since other shops were closed. She told that she will check whether she had change and asked me whether 15 would do. I agreed to it and she gave me back five bucks. She then told me that she is an hair stylist and I should have gone to a barber. Then again she told me that even barbers charge 35. This made me think bad about her since I just knew a shop who do it for 10.
I thought the word is cruel everywhere and people try to kill the mocking birds which pass their way. But inspite of this thought I apologised to her for the misery/mystery without knowing what it is. She too said that she is feeling sorry about it and not to think over it. Oh… what a kind of people. She got 5 more than what I should have spent and still she ends up like the do-gooder. I asked her what my charge will be if I come for the next time. She said that she will give a 35 for me if I am regular.Oh never again to you lady!I cursed myself on the walk back home for that extra 5 dollars and offering myself to situations like this.
Being the geek I am, I came back and googled for the place and her name. Whoa she is a hair stylist and she was right with her numbers. There were public reviews about her in yelp and though it was labeled as pricey her numbers were right. I ran those scenes again for a moment and realised how dumb and deaf I was. Whilst I cant afford 40 dollars every month I am sure I have to get her once more and get some job done and pay her respect my dues.