…Last night, I had my first haircut in India and left chuckling at the novelty of the experience. To set the tone, it was Rs 50 (about 97 cents). I had seen dozens of roadside open-air barber stands but I ended up going to where the local cricket players and my host father get their haircuts.
To my complete surprise, the barber shop looked just like a nice women’s salon back home except that it was entirely for men (the female salon was on a different floor). I had expected some rugged virile establishment speckled with rust and dirt, especially after having seen what was offered on the roadside. Instead, I saw masculine men getting facials, shaves, massages, and manicures. The experience became comical, however, when I spotted a nearly bald gentleman reading the paper under one of those spherical plastic drying devices. It almost didn’t seem possible for this to be happening in Faridabad.
Although I asked to keep the length of my hair about the same, and even verified to make sure he understood my English, the barber’s first swipe took hair practically down to the scalp. I just smiled and took it all in, figuring that it would have to grow back at least before I returned to the States.
Once the haircut was over, the unexpected and unforgettable head massage began. Instead of a soothing, pleasant massage, it felt and looked in the mirror as if this man was trying to crush my skull. He interlaced his fingers on top of my head and applied as much pressure as humanly possible to the sides of my cranium. This was followed by more bone-shattering work on my back, shoulders, and arms, including popping each of the joints in my fingers. Finally, as I thought the procedure was ending and was ready to celebrate my survival, he pulled my arms straight back and then readied his arms between my elbows and back. I could see that some horrific back-popping chiropractic work was imminent and was forced to cry uncle. With my arms helplessly locked behind me, I just begged for the whole thing to end.
Although I had been slightly upset by the short length of my hair, I was happy to pay and left very content that I had not been broken into two pieces.