Monday, October 13, 2008

Haircut Customs

I've always been interested in the rituals that accompany a haircut in different parts of the world. In Turkey for instance, a barber will trim your ear, nose, and upper cheek hair by singeing them with a burning stick of wood. So I was curious to see what kind of extras come along with a Kathmandu haircut.

The haircut itself is pretty standard. It's what comes after that distinguishes the experience: a full upper body massage and stretching treatment performed by the barber.

It begins with a mild back, arm and shoulder rub, and then becomes something like a combination of physical therapy, chiroprachty, and shiatsu dance. Arms forced behind my back in a chicken wing, knuckles cracked, palms rubbed, digits yanked one by one, forehead slapped, head punched with a closed fist, back cracked, full nelson neck stretch. And finally, as a slapstick finale, the barber put his hands together in prayer formation and slapped my hear 360 degrees around, making that hollow dip-can packing sound.

There is nothing more relaxing in the world.

Until you get charged double the standard price for the ordeal because you're a tourist.