Saturday, January 7, 2012

Am(b)er Haircut

Ok, this morning we went to this little town Amber (pronounced "Am-er") just down the road from out hotel and had a lot of wonderful little adventures in a really brief period, including elephant rides, touring this amazing fort/palace complex, and various commercial escapades in the town. I'll have to share more of these later, but just wanted to drop in some pictures of the high point of the morning for me:
The quest I began in Pondichery days ago, traipsing all that city's streets in the broad vicinity of our hotel in search, was finally fulfilled. I was looking for a haircut in Tamil Nadu. I found it in Rajasthan. I had escaped the back way out of the fortress and come across some monkeys and a guy outside a temple who really wanted to sell me a sim-card, then engaged in some haggling with another guy over some souvenir, and then, with the help of my Colgate colleagues who were with increasing concern wondering if I'd been genuinely trying to channel the crazy-haired Shiva, I found a little shop, owned by one Ricky, where I spent almost an hour in the chair in the hands of an extremely capable barber.

The first stage was a simple hair-cut, of which I have indeed been in severe need. This included a straight-razor at my temples, as well as long the back of my neck. Next was a very skillful trimming of the beard, and then cleaning off my "neck-beard" hairs, also with straight-razor (as you can see in the photo, Ricky, the shop-owner in the white shirt, felt compelled to step in himself when it came to the straight-razor on my neck, although the other gentleman, whose name I didn't catch, had been doing an exquisite job with me).
After the hair-cut and beard trim came the face-massage, which included this white cream all over my face (I think six different kinds of lotion, cream, pomade, were applied to me in the course of the hour), which you may be able to see was then rubbed in with what seemed to be a sort of souped-up vibrator with broad rubber plug on the end. The vibrator went all over my face, behind my ears (folded front to really get the vibration going), and then the barber put his finger in my ear and vibrated the thing over it in order to get a gentler aurally penetrating vibration. I think I'll never have earwax problems again.
The final stage was a "hair massage" that included some weird crackings of knuckles on my head, and then also a massage all down my back and also along my arms, squeezing my biceps and triceps with some vigor, and also doing a weird, momentarily uncomfortable twisting of each of my fingers.
Overall, it was about the most intense physical experience I've had that involved likelihood of neither violence nor amorousness, and where I didn't know the name of the other person involved. I also should say that if anyone's ever been to a hamam (Turkish bath), this back-street Indian barbershop hair-cut has it beat by a mile!


  1. I still think the beard should have gone, leaving the mustache--but maybe that's more Tamil-Nadu.

  2. When we ran into Dan immediately post-haircut, he was just this short of recognizable, because his hair was slicked straight back. So he looked like a cross between Dan Epstein and somebody completely local. Only a few of us got the full effect, because the Epstein curls reasserted themselves pretty fast.