More than just a hair cut

Posted: October 5, 2007 in Blog

A couple months ago, I wrote about the trials and tribulations of finding a good place to get my hair cut.

Just when I had found the perfect barbershop near my hostel, it was razed as part of a city campaign to get rid of illegal markets. Soon afterwards, I moved across the city to the house I live in now and the search for a barber began anew.

That search did not take long. Down the hill from where I live is a barber named Tom who works out of a tiny shop that doubles as a photocopy shop (a perfectly logical combination, no?)

Anyway, Tom is a good guy. The first time I went in there he was so concerned about doing a good job, he took about 45 minutes cutting my hair and was working with such precision that I began to wonder whether he was trying to trim each hair individually.

The fact that I pay well has not discouraged this trend. A man’s haircut typically costs 1,500 shillings or less–about 80 cents. Feeling sheepish at paying someone so little, I usually pay 5,000 shillings. And so each time I come to get my hair cut, Tom tries to direct me right to the chair, ahead of the others who are waiting in line. Each time I refuse, and quietly take my seat to read weeks-old newspapers while the cramped shop buzzes with Luganda chatter.

After trimming my hair and beard, Tom always pulls out an assortment of liquids and gels to rub into my head, face and neck. The first time he did this I was curious just what each one was.
“What is this?” I asked him as he massaged an unknown substance into my cheeks.

“This will help you smell nice for the girls,” Tom said. “You want to smell nice for the girls, don’t you?”

Tom is good at asking questions you can’t really refute.

On my most recent visit, Tom was again going through the motions of applying this liquid and that, when he and his business partner (the one who runs the photocopier) got into an argument.

Normally no problem, but Tom seemed to forget that he was massaging a liquid that will help me smell nice for the girls into my cheeks when he began arguing.

In fact, it soon became apparent that he had completely forgotten. So there he was, arguing with his business partner while he continued to massage my cheeks. I sat there patiently, at one point making eye contact with the guy who was waiting his turn. He was having a difficult time suppressing laughter.

Eventually, the argument ended, and Tom turned his attention back to me.

“So sorry,” he said as he loaded up with another substance (“To soften your scalp, sir,” he told me), and began rubbing it into my head.

No problem, Tom, see ya next week.

  1. stef says:

    Damn! I want a haircut from this guy. What gels and potions does he have for the ladies trying to attract the men?Are there goats running around the back of this shop? And most importantly, does the photocopier print in colour?

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