I tend to go a long time in between haircuts, especially when I travel. The idea of having to deal with a new place and a new language on top of it can be distressing. Do I tip… do I not? How do I ask for what I want?
Part of the fun of learning Russian was getting to the point where I felt comfortable heading out into the world to approach real-life tasks in the language. The day came when I felt it necessary to test my skills and get a haircut in Bishkek.
I wandered around looking for something resembling a salon for about an hour. Even with the directions I had received from Zamira (the girl who served us our beer at the Kondor), it took ages, which could either have been her directions or my comprehension of Russian. Woops.
When I was about to give up, I found a lovely little place with pink walls and five stylists working away. I told the receptionist that my Russian wasn’t very good, but I don’t think she passed it on to the stylist because she seemed a bit shocked when she heard me incapable of explaining what I wanted. So, those words I thought I knew beforehand were obviously not enough.
She stood there for a second, this young Russian woman with bleach blond hair and frizzy ends, until a light-bulb clicked. The stylist grabbed a handful of magazines and took her time while we flipped through them together using my limited vocabulary to tell what was good and bad about each one.
Overall, I didn’t care what happened to my hair, but we eventually found one that looked cute, and that’s when the fun started.
Not only was it the best haircut experience of my life, my hair looked awesome! I was overjoyed.
Dropping my 300 som at the counter was well worth it, and it was so good that I even called my friend after I walked outside to make sure I shouldn’t tip. I know it’s not a tipping country, but for service that good I just felt like it should be!
I’ve been thinking about doing a huge chop-off of my hair — it is summer in Sydney after all — which sparked the memory for this post.