Prof. Glen Taylor - Ramblings from China - "The Hair Cut"
Monday October 15th, 2012
It was Friday evening in the dining hall (pictures attached). Wang Huan, whose English name is Nancy, is normally quite shy. She came to sit with me. After a while she took a deep breath and said: "we noticed that you need a haircut. I am going to the barber tonight myself and would be happy to take you." I laughed; she was right, but I hadn't found a barber shop and communicating what I wanted by way of a cut was a challenge. So, Nancy, her roommate WuDi, and I hopped on our bicycles and rode to the mall in the dark with no lights on our bikes. (This is typical; people ride cycles even against the traffic in the dark with little or no lights.) I rode in front of WuDi because she had no brakes on her bike.
The "barber" shop was more like a beauty salon. I was whisked into the back where I got a shampoo. Nancy tried talking to me while I was under the hose but I couldn't hear anything. I was taken out of the shampoo room with my hair wet and sticking straight up. By this time a small group of people had assembled, including two more students from the seminary! One man came running up to join our little group. I assumed he was another onlooker from the seminary. I was trying to remember this "good friend" from the seminary. But then he explained: "I'm so pleased to meet another foreigner. There aren't many of us in this city."
Four students joined the consult with the barber. The first question in my mind was whether the barber used his own hairstyle as the benchmark; he was shaved on both sides but had a big poof of dyed red hair of various lengths on top. I was given three price options. I thought if I chose in the lower bracket he wouldn't go to the expense of dying my hair like his. Careful instructions were passed on by the students from me. He nodded understandingly. But when Nancy's roommate WuDi came to check in on me, she looked horrified. (This leaves a sinking feeling.) None of the instructions on length were heeded. I now have a very short haircut, but at least my hair isn't red!
Prices range from three- to ten-dollars for a cut. I thought it was safest to choose one for six. This got me a cup of hot water to drink while my hair was being cut. Needless to say the water was less fibrous to drink before the downpour of hair from my head. I hope I didn't insult them by not finishing it.
Pictures: part of the Dining hall (food is served out six or so windows from the glassed areas, and a bottle of ketchup (a gift from someone).