“25 Years Experience!”

Having completed our moto-mission, there was one more piece of business we had to see to before leaving Jaisalmer: David needed a shave. Our friend Simon joined us at the barber shop next door to the Trotters office and all of us got beautified.Diptic H30David was up first. He wanted a haircut and a clean shave and he wanted it for a good price. We’ve learned that it’s always best to ask the price before ordering anything in India, whether it be a haircut or a bar of soap or a roadside snack. Otherwise you are sure to be disappointed when it’s time to settle the bill. When David inquired the cost of a cut and a shave the hair dresser, Raj, responded with, “Ach, ‘Money, money, money’. Don’t always worry about the money.” So David suggested that he would just pay whatever he felt like when the cut was finished. “Alright, 50 rupees cut, 50 rupees shave,” resigned Raj. Less than $2 sounded like a good deal to David. Raj started at the top. David got a cut he was satisfied with in just a few minutes. Raj asked David if he’d like oil in his hair. David accepted, assuming it was a standard way to finish an Indian haircut. This oil came complete with a startlingly intense head massage. David’s scalp was slapped, rubbed, kneaded and knuckled thoroughly. Time for the the beard. But first a face massage. Various products and lotions were smeared all over David’s face (including the “delicate eye area” that the package of every facial product ever manufactured recommends you avoid) in some particular order and Raj touched David’s face in so intimate a way that Austin and Simon felt uncomfortable watching. There was vigorous slippery rubbing, attentive stroking, and again with the slapping. Meanwhile David’s eyes were burning with toxic chemicals. His face was misted (all bystanders were also misted) and then his beard was lathered, slathered and frothed to a rich foam. Out came the straight razor and his bushy beard seemed to peel away with each clean stroke. Raj left David an impressive/gross handlebar mustache long enough for this photo to be taken before David asked him to remove it. Several mistings, powderings, dustings and brushings later and he had a new face. Simon thought David had been transformed into a firefighter.Diptic H31Next up was Simon. We all got misted again and he ended up with a fashionable haircut to his liking and somehow managed to avoid all the slapping.Diptic H33Then it was Austin’s turn. She just needed a trim, and as this was a rather impromptu grooming appointment, found herself in the barber’s chair with hair that was far from clean. This wasn’t the sort of place that was going to offer her a chair that reclined comfortably into a sink where her hair would be washed for her with warm water and special salon products. Nope, she got misted, too. She cringed as Raj took a comb to her curly hair. Maybe Raj hasn’t had many curly-haired patrons so he tried to comb Austin’s hair in one smooth motion beginning at her forehead. The comb moved about a centimeter before becoming painfully ensnarled in her grimy curls. But the rest of the job proceeded painlessly and the end result was satisfactory. Austin’s head also got oiled and slapped and then Raj offered to throw in a face massage. When she declined Raj assured her there was no charge for it, and although she didn’t really want to be touched on the face she accepted his offer. Raj brought down a big dusty box from a top shelf that contained facial products especially for ladies. It clearly hadn’t been used in a long time. The massage felt as weird as it had looked on David and she endured it. Then Raj upped the weirdness factor by applying a broad, flat vibrator to her face and mouth. Just as she was ready to flee his chair Raj offered her another treatment she could not refuse: threading. This is a method of hair removal common in some parts of Asia that she has been curious to try. She excitedly sat back in the chair and let Raj shape her eyebrows using a thread (as for sewing) that he held between his teeth. She is now a big fan of the technique.Diptic H32Now groomed and powdered and nearly blinded by harsh chemicals it was time to pay Raj. He tallied our bill: 50 rupees for David’s shave, 50 rupees for his cut, 80 rupees for Austin’s trim, 80 rupees for David’s face massage (Austin’s was free of course), and 120 rupees for the two head massages. Bringing the total bill to 200 rupees higher than the price David had agreed to before he ever sat in the chair. David wasn’t interested whatsoever in bargaining with Raj. He had been trying to avoid this hassle altogether by agreeing on a price at the beginning. Damn Raj with his hidden fees and deceptive sales tactics! We paid him the price he asked (a total of about $5) and left with a figurative bitter taste in our mouths and a literal caustic sting in our eyes. On our way out Raj boasted his “25 years experience!” and encouraged us to leave a review for him on Trip Advisor. We haven’t yet.Diptic H34.5Our somewhat gloomy feelings of our barber shop experience were lifted upon returning to our home at the guesthouse. The safari guides gaped in amazement when they saw David’s new face: “NO MUSTACHE?!”Diptic H35.2Up next: “25 Years Experience!” the film.


8 thoughts on ““25 Years Experience!”

  1. How exciting you got to try eyebrow threading! And you have all survived quite the experience. Did everyone’s skin react okay to all the mysterious product, complete with slapping? I’m not sure mine would….David you look so different without the stashe/beard combo. Enjoy the new face, have a lovely day! Hugs

  2. Pingback: Rajasthani Moto Gang | Fodenvensel Studios

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