A Conversation for Cheap Hair Cuts in London
Well, I found my own cheap one...
Alfredo Started conversation Nov 4, 2006
In my neighbourhood , unfortunately, there is a hairdresser who injects its customers with racist chats. The “oh my god, don’t look at me, I feel I’m a looser “, can be clearly seen in his eyes.
A couple of hundred meters further on, is another hairdresser and that’s quite another story. He’s an old man.
His barbershop is an old-fashioned one, with a floor and wash-hand basins of granite, and the chairs date from the fifties. His radio is always tuned in for classical music. I experience each time when I’m there, as a relief.
He has only óne short coming; he cannot cut!
So most of the times when I’m there, I’m taking direction from the very first minute, but despite my control, he still sometimes cuts a very big piece of my curls and when I get almost in shock by seeing it, his fatherly reply is often; “well, it’s just hair anyway”!
That answer puts me in an unescapable coma, realizing that all mankind is like the universe; absurd.
The good old man is unfortunately véry old and has come close to death and therefore, at each visit, it is always a gamble if he’s still alive.
And indeed, after leaving home this summer to my workshop at the Belgium border, I did read at his shop, after my return ; ”because of private circumstances the shop is provisionally closed”.
Probably the man has now reached the loony Roman Catholic “limbo”, where peoples who cause doubt within god’s mind, about which way to send them, must sit and wait.
Anyhow, this is really bad news! What to do now!?
Heroically, I take my decision to flee my neighbourhood
and almost by my basic instinct I enter around three o’clock a rather poor area. Looking around from my bicycle I see a small pub, with its door wide open, showing five men sitting at the bar.
I enter it and ask “if anyone can tell me if there is any barbershop in this area”.
One man appears to have the guts and capability to descend from its bar stool and tells me with a paralysed tongue, that there are as much as three barbershops; “with all very kind babygirls”.
I decide after this alcoholic recommendation to comb the complete trio in this neighbourhood and eventually I choose for a Chinese hairdressing salon. Possibly from a subconscious faith, that they might be peoples who can understand and handle a person like me.
I simply do have a passionate hate against the whole bunch of trendy hairdressers, with all their ins and outs, who would turn Alfredo abundantly clear into a clown and that would sell out that the inside of me already ís one, so he could never act by surprise any longer. That would be a sell out of lunatic opportunities.
I enter the Chinese haircutting world and immediately a stately nice Chinese lady – about forty years old - comes straight to me .
She carries alluring black clothes and she must have spent this day at least one hour for all her make up. For me she did not need to do it, but she would probably not have thought in the early morning that someone with the name “Alfredo” would come along to try a Chinese haircut.
I ask her if I can have a haircut and I can walk straight to an empty futuristic chair where the action will be performed.
As soon as I sit, I ask with lots of care, if the sound of the radio might be a little softer and she addresses a boy of 25 springs old and he changes the broadcasting station, by which it now suddenly produces hard Rock music.
You may already guess the problem; they speak and understand almost only Chinese.
The tension in me starts to increase tangibly.
My throat is almost strangled with a kind towel, but I do not falter, because I must first and for all create a new survival strategy.
Further I am wrapped up in a conventional, white hairdresser dress.
While my hairdresser starts to cut very firmly , a beautiful young Chinese woman - who enjoys this globe about 21 years – walks away into a backstage room.
Despite all my doubts, I still decide after a few minutes to get involved in real life contact with my Chinese cutting lady. Besides that, we áll know, that if our body is being touched for a while, ány human being starts to talk. So, me too.
At that moment, I hear someone coming in our direction from the backstage room and I suddenly ask my lady in a smooth way; “is that your daughter, who is coming?”
The lady is not at all amused by my words, seeing her face in the mirror; “shé, my daughter?? My daughter, shé !!
I thought that my inviting words could really become a bridge between our very different worlds.
But the source of her bewilderment appears to be at an old, shuffling Chinese granny, a generation we Dutchmen almost never get to see, because they are doomed until death, folding egg rolls in Chinese kitchens. They seldom come outside, just like the cooks. I can know , because I once had a Chinese friend and came regular in all kinds of Chinese kitchens.
In the eyes of my lady - as the mirror shows me - I can read that there are wandering mány diagnoses in her mind about this Dutch cowboy she’s cutting, right now.
Well, I thought that the young beautiful person who just went báckstage was returning with the same age. To me that seems rather predictable. Time goes fast, but even in Alfredo’s world there are limits.
Well, it really makes her silent, even towards her colleagues, and that’s véry uncommon, as far as I understand the magical Chinese life.
So I decide she needs a few minutes to relax.
Her way of cutting however, does not permit a silence longer than three minutes, tells my frightening soul, because also under hér control clearly gaps in my beloved hair are created, just as my former old man did. My hair needs to be saved again.
With full speed I think off a strategy and tell her what my important wishes are, considering my very own hair.
After two minutes she appears to be ‘fed ‘up with me and says firmly;
“me now cutting, you looking later in mirror”
“Me now cutting, you looking later in mirror”?!
Where ám I ?? Whát’s happening here? Is there any help?
No help to be discovered, not anywhere. No mediator to be found.
So I do capitulate at last, but still I pray for a second to Maria about all my sorrows and yes, it appears to help. After ten minutes I am permitting myself to conclude, that I would survive my cycle tour in town, if I do it straíght away from this barbershop to my home.
Maybe Maria has nothing to do with it. Maybe this year it’s the Chinese “year of the rabbit”. According to Chinese astrology, I am “a rabbit” and when it’s the turn to all human rabbits on this planet, these wandering figures get a little help from their cosmic friends.
As a finishing touch, she hurls for a second or two a mirror around my head and all I say is;”O.K.”
Still, al last, doubt crosses my mind en I ask her, while my finger touches the back of my neck; “You shaving here?”
“Yes, yes, shaving here” and I see at the look of her face that for this incomprehensible client of her ,she is willing to make a show in half a minute by swinging trimmers around my neck.
Finally it’s time to pay.
“How much do I owe you?”
“Thirteen euro’s and fifty cents”.
I pay fourteen euro’s and leave 50 cents at the counter. Not the slightest idea why, but this question shrinks into nothing, when I look at all the other questions that came up into my mind in the last hour.
On my way home I suddenly meet my “television daughter”. She works in a TV production company and works around the globe. Now it appearently hás to happen, that on this fragile moment, just shé must see me in my new outfit and yes, what I already feared ……
“What has happened to yoú?!”
I stepp down.
I tell her the whole story and at the end of it, I ask her; “what’s better; with a cap, or without”
“Uh, well, put your cap off”, she asks and I show her the Dutch-Chinese cultureclash that reshaped my head.
With a soft undertone, full of empathy, she replies; “you better leave it on”.
Arriving at home at last, I decide instantly to put all this drama into a new story, which is very good for my nerves and, by the way, when it’s written,
I don’t have to tell the whole story over and over again, while friends and children can estimate what they can expect when they meet me within the first four weeks
“China is booming”, is what I often hear and read these days.
Indeed, very “booming” to my experience.
They júst go their very own way!
Even when Alfredo is around!
Greetings from Amsterdam
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