Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Mute Barber

Today I got my second haircut since arriving in Armenia three months ago to the day. My first haircut cost 8,000 Armenian dram (AMD); that's about $20 for those of you keeping track at home. I won't disclose where, but rest assured, it was fancy and beyond my budget. The cut was great, but the price left me feeling robbed and ever-aware of the absurd income gap in Armenia.

So today I searched and found something more reasonably priced - 2,000 AMD, or, $5. I thought it would be another routine haircut as I ascended the steps and entered the brightly lit room with scents of chemical fruit and sounds of squirting water afloat in the air. There was one male barber in a sea of stern/vivacious women and he approached me. Puts a metal device up to his throat and begins to talk. His voice sounds robotic as it comes through the small machine a few words at a time, but his expressions are of course human. He tells me to wait. I look him in the eye and try to pretend everything is normal. That I wouldn't dare ask him how this happened though its the first thing I want to know. That regardless of how it happened, I would know it was simply not right, not fair that this man had to hold a machine up to his throat every time he wanted to ask, and that I could just stand there and sing a song or whistle a melody should I choose. Is there justice in this world, I wanted to ask him. I wanted to know. I wanted to ask my friends. Earlier today I saw images of children's bloody corpses in the Gaza Strip. A few days ago it was another family shot dead in Aleppo. At a breakfast under the oppressive, mind-numbing thud of techno trash in yet another smoke-filled Yerevan café I watched soldiers stampede through the DRC and another endless stream of refugees fleeing for "safety". Is there justice in the world? I don't want to know the answer for I already know the deepest truths can shock, stifle man.

I'm told to wait and when it's my turn, I'm treated to a damn fine haircut. The mute barber, Jack, was simply a master. I have been the VICTIM of many horrible haircuts. I'm sure there are many reasons these occur: barber/barbress is having a lousy day/week/month/year/..., has grown sloppy over time, is thinking about something else, or simply believes the job at hand does not deserve the fullest attention.

Jack cut at my hair like he the finest onion slicer. With precision he sliced face and neck hair like it could be done in his dreams. He had five different kinds of brushes, and used them all; each served a purpose and was deployed with immense precision at just the right moment. My only critique is that too much water wound up in my ears. But that's more of a self-critique. Next time I should man up more.

So if you need a barber in Yerevan who is of the highest caliber and the fairest price, let me know.

1 comment:

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