In Barber we trust

I share a lot of traits with Dennis the menace like most kids who grew up reading him. I still share his hatred for barber shops. I look back my childhood through old photographs and I see all my important days ruined by bad haircuts. I remember the first time I went on my own to the barber and kept returning home telling my mom that there was still a huge crowd at the shop. My dreams of skipping a haircut that day was however cut short when my mom dragged me herself to the barber and found that I was lying all that time. Sure enough, I got my punishment in the form of a bad haircut.
Fast forward a couple of years and I am still reluctant of haircuts. So, it was natural that I avoided getting a haircut for almost a year when I came first to US. Partly because I felt that getting a haircut here is costly ( over $15 and tips $2 while the whole torture will end with less than a $1 back home) and partly because all the guys I saw who came back after the haircut were left with a slightly tonsured head. 
I was living the dream. No haircut and I just loved my long hair. Then came the inevitable. No matter how old you grow, you will always be a child to your mom. And my mom started noticing my long, unruly hair and started bugging me to get a haircut. I cursed the modern technology that allowed video chats. I fought a losing battle until I had to give up. So came the day I finally decided to get a haircut. 
I usually go to just one shop back home. I’ve been a regular customer for years. I never even open my mouth except for the occasional hello to the barber. I don’t even instruct him on how I wanted my haircut. He knew. Somehow, he always knew what I needed and gave me an adequate haircut. But here, now, I was made to go to a new shop. And worst of all, in a new country. 
I still mustered all the courage I could and went to a shop. My friend recommended it to me and even gave me a coupon for a free neck massage and shampoo. Who could refuse that? I had to cycle to the shop. I entered it and to my amazement saw just ladies in the shop. I was confused that I entered the wrong shop but there was no mistaking it. Ladies were giving haircuts to men. Oh sweet lord! now I knew why the guys came back with such short hair. Who in their right minds would stop a woman from cutting your hair? I could imagine these guys being thrown out for there were no more hair to be cut. 
I went to the counter, got a token and waited anxiously for my turn. Something about this didn’t feel right to me. My turn came soon. A tall blonde came up and called my name (killing it in the process though. Americans and Indian names never mix I guess). I stood up and smiled. She asked how was I doing and I nodded my head. She escorted me to a swiveling chair. I sat down and removed my glasses. The whole world blurred a bit. Then as I sat there waiting for her to begin the ritual, she started asking me questions. She wanted to know how long has it been since I got my last haircut and what kind do I want now and so on. I was dumbstruck. I even started missing my old barber to whom I hardly spoke. I managed to mumble a few answers. I was feeling more as if I was in a clinic rather than the salon. 
I finally managed to answer all her questions and I still didn’t get my haircut. She took me to an other room and sat me down on a chair. She started shampooing my hair. As I felt the warm water hit my hair, a strange calmness hit me. I was becoming more and more relaxed now. She took me back to the shop and started the haircut. 
I guess barbers must be bored with their job. I mean who wouldn’t be bored with cutting smelly hair day after day. So they always try to have small talk with their customers. The blonde lady did the same. She started inquiring about what I did and how I liked the city. I told her about my studies and how things were so different here and so on. The conversation got to a point where I felt so relaxed and comfortable that I told her how insecure I felt with being in a new place and how scared I am of blending in. My haircut was done and she proceeded to the neck massage. I kept talking and she kept listening. She then gave me a few tips on how to act in a few social situations like in a hotel or while standing in a queue or opening a door for others. I was actually enjoying this.  I felt that all my troubles have been cut away like my hair. And when my time was finally up, I felt a bit reluctant to leave. I asked for her name and tipped her generously. I thanked her and was about to leave when I saw her escorting her next customer. I gave a reassuring smile at that guy knowing that he too will be cleansed off all his troubles by this goddess herself. I made my way back home thinking all the while what just happened. Barbers are gods to whom we trust our heads with and they give us beauty in return. My whole perspective about barbers was changing until I saw my reflection on a shop mirror. It was the most horrible haircut ever and I paid a fortune for it. Curses……

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