Finding Nemo

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nepalese Torture Chamber

My mustache had grown to the point where it was starting to interfere with eating.  I didn't have an electric trimmer and was getting annoyed, especially with soup.  On my way back from lunch I passed a little room that might possibly be a barber shop.  I said Namaste to the man inside, and pointed to my beard.

"Yes! Yes!  No problem, come sit!"

I carefully explained that I only wanted to trim my moustache.  That was it.  Just please clip the hair so it wasn't over the lip.

"No problem sir!!"  He was a little too enthusiastic, I suppose that was the first warning sign.

I sat down, he went through an elaborate preparation ritual for just trimming a few hairs off my lip.  First he smacked my face around a bit, pinched my cheeks, and then took a bottle of Windex and started spraying my face.  I cringed but it turned out to just be water.  Whew.  Then, he rubbed some oil on my face, and finally got some shaving cream and a whisk and began applying it everywhere.  I pointed again to the hairs over my lip.  "Just here please!"  This was not looking good.  For some reason it was 100 degrees in the shop, and I was starting to sweat profusely.

He pulled out a pair of 8 inch medieval scissors and started trimming my mustache.  They smelled like rust, old spice, and curry, I could barely breathe.  But I had to admit, he did a quality job, and I realized that when it came to facial hair trimming an Indian barber was not a bad choice.

Then, he pulled out a straight razor.  Now, I am not a big fan of these.  Maybe it has something to do with a long sharp blade being applied to your jugular.  But before I could sit up he already had it on my neck.  I had no choice but to sit back and pray.  At this point, my shirt was soaked with sweat and it was starting to bead on my forehead.  It was Nepalese beard torture.

He scraped all the extra hair off my face, leaving the beard pretty much intact.  Once you get over the fear, the straight blade is actually pretty amazing.  My fancy Mach Turbo razors in my backpack would have had a tough time hacking through that 2-week old growth, but the straight blade was a tank.  It ploughed through everything the first time, leaving my skin clean as a baby's butt.  After he finished, he proudly smiled.


It actually was a little uneven.  "Well... um... "

"Ah!  Not same!  No problem, just wait..."  I immediately regretted that I had spoken.  He scraped away a bit more, and it was clear that it was just getting worse.  If I complained anymore, my glorious beard would soon look like that thin chinstrap preferred by 1990 boy bands.

"Yes, looks great!  Good job."  I tried to sit up, but he shoved me back down.  Uh oh.

"Please, one moment."  He got out some oil and smacked it all over my face and rubbed it in my eyes and ears.  What???!!  Then, he got the Windex and sprayed me again.  He dug out a plug of waxy stuff from a tub and rubbed it into my beard.  "Make shiny!  Good for ladies!"  His smiled knowingly, his breath smelling of onions and curry and the wax like turpentine.  My stomach starting making a knot.

"Ok thanks, I have to be go-"

"No no!  You need trim on backside!"  I gathered he was talking about my neck and not something else.  He took the straight edge back out and scraped away the hair under my ponytail, applied a few layers of oil and wax and god knows what else.

Finally, just when I thought I was free, he began to rub my forehead.  Hard.  Then my cheeks, moving down to my neck and chest.  It was starting to get weird.  I honestly think it feels a little unusual to get my chest massaged by a woman, let alone a curried 60-year old Indian.  After lingering a little too long just above the nipples, he moved onto my neck.  Honestly it felt OK, but I had a sneaking suspicion he was getting turned on.

"Thank you so much!!  But I really have to be going, I have an appointment, I mean, flight to catch.  Have to pack!  Thank you!"

I stood up abruptly.  He looked a little concerned and upset, but I was done.  I had just come in to get a few hairs trimmed off above my lip, and now I had a crooked beard, was drenched in sweat, couldn't breathe, felt sick, and was getting some weird signals.  I paid him and gulped the fresh air outside.

But I have to say, my mustache does look pretty good.