Sunday, March 27, 2011

“To sheer or not to sheer”, that is the question.”

"Bald or Bald, Sir?"
 Throughout my working life, I generally have waited until the half term or term break to get a haircut unless there’s something important on which requires me to be shorn like a wedding or a funeral. Well, you know what I mean, it’s easy in the UK. You pay your money and out you come all clipped and better for it. Now, in Guyana, I had a horrible experience. See link below and scroll down the page when you get to it..

In a few seconds after having told the barber how to cut my hair, half of my silver locks were on the floor and my head almost bald. Mary was very unkind to me when she saw it and it took a long time to grow and I was determined that it wouldn’t happen again. I was scarred for life mentally!

Hence, I am neurotic about haircuts in foreign lands especially when we have no common language. There must be ten barbers in Rwamagana – it’s a night out for everyone, queuing, watching and seeing all the different styles. You can have bald, bald, bald or bald and that goes for men, boys and small girls too. Women, however, have a bit more choice in their beauty parlours!

So, I chose one, not that I need to be more beautiful. Three times I went there and three times it was closed. I’ve now seen it’s closed permanently. I think it must have been the shock of cutting different hair. I found a barber who seemed quite old fashioned and might have possessed a pair of scissors rather than the electric razor – the key to a potentially good haircut in my opinion. When the woman in the white coat saw me, she ran indoors to get her male counterpart who appeared to be sitting in a cupboard and they both cowered in a corner of the shop, obviously worrying about what might happen. Having showed them my passport photo to show them how I wanted it, they admitted they didn’t possess scissors (French speaking). So I left with my last hope in Rwamagana for a haircut having fizzled out. I tried to get one in the Mille Collines in Kigali but no luck.

Eventually, our good friend Joan who was having a similar hair neurosis told me that a cutter of white people’s hair might exist in the centre of Kigali. So, armed with Mary for protection, we braved the place with Mary sitting behind me watching over for any sign of a razor.

He was brilliant and spoke French so the instructions could be precise. It took an hour and Mary nearly fell asleep with the boredom and it was one of the best haircuts for a long time – 6,000rwf and worth every sou!

Now, if any of you have every seen the film Pretty Woman, there are similarities to my story. The hooker, Miss Vivian, goes into a posh dress shop in Hollywood and they refuse to serve her. Her wealthy gentleman friend later takes her to another shop where they spend thousands of dollars. The next day, dressed in her new finery, she goes into the original shop and says to them to their surprise “Big mistake, big, big mistake, huge!!!” and walks out. Well, I feel the same way about the Rwamagana barber as I walk passed. “Big, big mistake, Huge. You should have cut my hair. 6,000 francs, a small fortune. Huge!!!!”.

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Hi, hope your enjoy reading about our adventures in Rwanda. We'd love to hear from you. Stephen and Mary