Friday, February 23, 2007


In the language challenged state I frequently find myself in, one of the most difficult situations to confront is the hairdressers. It's mainly the unspoken staring from both staff and customers while I'm trying to gesticulate as to roughly what I'm after that makes me feel rather awkward. In my local in Beijing I'm now quite used to this and have enough vocab to speak a little, so that is not too much of a problem anymore. They still haven't managed quite what I'm after but I think we're going in the right direction.The other great thing in Beijing is that if you get it all horribly wrong then the hair catastrophe which ensues is a remarkably cheap disaster (about 70p for cut).

The difference here in Japan, as I've just discovered, is that for the price of one major hairtastrophe, I could have at least 30 bad cuts in Beijing. After finding a hairdressers near my apartment and establishing that there was no common language between us, I was given several magazines to peruse and choose which of the Japanese men with very straight hair I would most like to look like (for those who don't know, my hair has waves upon curls upon waves, as soon as it gets long enough). I gave up and pointed to something which looked plausible and half an hour later walked out of the shop, substantially poorer (about two days Chinese wages), looking nothing like the man in the photo but with some semblance of having been to a barbers rather than a wind tunnel.

This is always a difficult situation and I've only ended up with a few really bad haircuts due to communication problems. I'm not expecting this situation to change much in the few months I have left in China.


Anonymous said...

Go on then. We need a pic of this horror.

helensotiriadis said...

you should hand them an old pic of yourself with a haircut that you liked.

Unknown said...

Kayossity, not too horrific this time.

Toomanytribbles, that's a revolutionary idea! Thank you :-)

Anonymous said...

hi jon,
you're an excellent story teller. this reminds me of myself sitting in an american hair salon. good thing for me i can move my ass to a chinatown shop.
how much longer are you in beijing? I'm skipping all the conferences in euro this summer, may end up in aspen for a few weeks. it looks like i won't be in china before fall comes.
yes, the rumor mill is amazingly reliable in all the cases i heard through other channels.
as u can see, i've started my tiny lil blog too over at wordpress. i subscribe to the least effort principle there and writes very crappy stuff.

Unknown said...

Hi Ping,

A definite lack of Brit-town out here in the Orient, but that's probably a very good thing!

I'm looking forward to seeing more terrible jokes that still make me laugh, on your blog :-) A Qcomper - the mind boggles!

All good stuff,

Take care,