I hadn’t had a haircut since we left St. Louis, so I was looking pretty shaggy. Long hair on an aging, balding man isn’t pretty (Right, Ralph?). So, what to do?
There are plenty of barbershops in Mekelle. (A barbershop here is often called a “barbery,” which makes me think of the Marine Corps Hymn, not haircuts). But there are very few people here with “European” type hair, so I’ve been reluctant to just walk in and sit down with a barber who probably doesn’t speak English and see what happens.
So I asked my Indian friend Hareesh (who has nice straight black hair) where he gets his hair cut. He told me he has a local barber who “makes house calls.” He comes to his house every few weeks and cuts his hair.
Hareesh always looks neat and well groomed, so I figured why not? It was probably worth the risk. Hareesh called his barber and I called Asmarom, the bajaj driver, to arrange transportation. The barber (whose name is Halish) punctually and set to work.
I’m not quite sure what I expected, but Halish pulled out his instruments, which included an electric barber clippers. (Helen says it is exactly the same thing she used to cut Jimmy and Thom’s hair all those years ago–ah, childhood memories! Right, boys?).
We had to go into the house to find an electrical plug. (You may not have had much experience with Ethiopian electrical sockets, but I did have a momentary pause thinking about this. Our brand-new electric toaster bit the dust and fried the power strip a few days ago, so I hoped this wasn’t going to happen to me with a sharp cutting instrument applied to my head and plugged into the local power grid).
The first thing Halish did (after putting his barber’s apron around my neck) was to stuff little balls of cotton into my ears. (I wondered if that was so I couldn’t hear my own screams or if it was to muffle his laughter…probably it wasjust to keep little pieces of hair out of my ears–but you never know, going into something like this…)
Helen took pictures while Halish cut my hair. He spent a LONG time cutting my hair (much longer than Wayne, my St. Louis barber, would have taken). But he did a good job and now I am “shorn” and I also have another cultural experience behind me. I probably won’t wait 11 weeks before the next haircut!