19 January

I got a haircut today. There is a barber on campus, so I could be independent, and I walked across campus on this beautiful and sunny 84 degree afternoon.  There is a small strip of shops on campus, and the barbershop is among them. What is the documentation center? A place where there is a Xerox machine, the only one on campus I have found, and you can pay for copies to be made. What do the other shops sell, KU 4 or KU 5? Not very much. They all sell a few absolute basics, from behind bars, where you point at what you want and pay through a window.


Frank cut my hair. He used electric clippers for the sides and back of my head where I still have hair that grows. The clippers had a cord that had been sliced, and the repaired cord, held together with tape and wires that I could see, fell across me again and again as I thought the word ‘Shock’. A radio played Kiswahili pop music, and Frank hummed along.

Cutting the hair on the top of my head, sparse as it is, proved to be problematic. Frank gestured that he wanted to use the clippers to shave everything off, like on his head. I shook my head ‘No’, and gestured for him to use scissors and just trim a little. He disappeared for a bit, and returned with scissors that looked like elementary school scissors, and they were just as dull. Clearly, I was a challenge. He cut a few loose hairs, smiled, and I shook my head ‘Yes.’

He then grabbed a stick with long hair on the end, and he hit me on the face and head. I was not prepared. Then he disappeared, and returned with a bowl of blue water. It did not smell good. He grabbed a used wet washcloth hanging over his head, and proceeded to wipe down my head and face with the washcloth.

I was done; my first haircut in Kenya was complete. When I got home, I trimmed my own hair on the top of my head as best I could, cutting off a fair amount, and I know it is uneven and funky, but what the heck? Hair grows back. And I brought a baseball cap.

I will return to Frank. The cost was 300 shillings, which is about $4. I am a satisfied customer. And none of you can see me.

Kenyatta University Shopping Center- Barber Shop second from the end on the left

Kenyatta University Shopping Center- Barber Shop second from the end on the left

This entry was published on January 19, 2014 at 8:50 am. It’s filed under Culture, People and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “STINKY BLUE WATER

  1. Did you discover what the water was? Barbicide ( used to disinfect combs)? My friend ask for a cut in Viet Nam some 20 years ago. The barber dumped a bucket if cold water in her unsuspecting head and then cut. He handed her a broken mirror to look in. Good times… Always interesting to see how they do in another country!

  2. Oh, Richard! This posting did make me laugh. But, oh Richard!

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