Here begins a story with an important lesson about barbershops. Namely that, if you go in there and tell the hairdresser to just go nuts, it can provide interesting results.
But first, from the beginning. My lessons today were pretty boring, to the point that I can barely remember what happened in them. I was supposed to be going with Bubpha to Ayutthaya as Itiya, the women I had dinner with on Friday, had invited us to see her school, but during my last hour Pilot the headmaster walked into our classroom to tell that a staff meeting was to take place today, ruining any chances of that happening.
I was quite frustrated by this, partly because I wanted to go to Ayutthaya, but also because I figured the school staff meeting would involve nothing but sitting in the library for a couple of hours whilst everyone spoke a language I wouldn’t be able to understand most of. Whilst that was pretty much what happened, since Bubpha translated for me I at least got the basics of what was going on, and it was nice to be kept in the loop of things in the same way that the other teachers were. The meeting mainly concerned the ceremonies for the being of the Mother’s Day weekend; these will take place on Friday, and I’ve now been roped into playing guitar as a big finale for them, potentially alongside the IT teacher. Should be interesting.
We also discussed the leaving party that would be held for me at the end of August, which will take place on a boat ride around Ayutthaya’s river. An exciting prospect, even if I don’t really want to think about leaving here just yet.
Bubpha and several of the other teachers had been dropping hints that I should get my haircut for the last few days, and since our initial plans were derailed after the meeting we headed to one of the barbers in Phachi. I should probably note at this point that, despite having gone to university in Reading for the last two years, I have still made no attempts to find a good hairdressers based on the fear that if I get it wrong my hair will be temporarily ruined. Glen’s Barbers in Ipswich know me well enough to just trim a bit off every time I come in, so my hairdressing choices extend no further than there.
Of course, Glen does not have a branch in Phachi, and I didn’t think Bubpha would appreciate me being fussy over another option. With that in mind, I just decided to go all out – if I was going to get a bad haircut, I may as well get one in style. Bubpha got the camera out as the barber tried to indicate to me how much she was going to take off. She was speaking in Thai, so I felt that the easiest thing to do would be to comply with whatever she said.
Take off most of the fringe? I guess I shouldn’t argue.
My beard? Yeh, you can take that all off too. Why the hell not.
She started with some uncomfortably long scissors and I could feel part of myself falling away along with the hair. Eventually she cut around the sides until I could actually see all of my ears for once. I don’t know if I like them.
As I sat staring at myself in the mirror I began to fear that I was being given the ultimate bowl cut and wouldn’t be able to be seen in public for the next few weeks because of it. Eventually it started to take shape and I became more accepting of it, maybe even liking it.
Then she started on the beard.
I found some novelty in having a knife scraped over my face, if only because I’ve always been stuck with stupid Gillette shavers before so someone using an actual knife made the whole thing seem a lot more majestic. The novelty wore off, however, when I realised that one sudden movement from either me or the barber if she made a mistake could potentially cut my throat, so I sat back as calmly as possible, waiting for it all to be over and hoping that I’d actually end up looking passable/not covered with shaving cuts by the end of it.
It actually became sort of relaxing after a while, so I nearly fell asleep in the chair. But eventually we were done, and I looked up to see the damage.
But you know what? Now that the initial shock of being clean shaven for the first time in ages has worn off… I kind of like it. I’m sure there are several people reading this who will see it and laugh, but I feel like a look a lot smarter, which was obviously the point of Bubpha pushing me in here in the first place. Plus it only cost 60 baht (£1.11) so even if it had turned out like a travesty, at least it would’ve been a cheap one. After being sceptical to begin with, I’m left thinking that getting my hair cut in Thailand is clearly the way forward.
The real fun, however, will be in seeing the reactions of the staff and students tomorrow.