the last ten-dollar-runaways-style hair cut for a while

Going to the hairdressers here is always an experience. I almost always have some story to come home with, and today was no exception.

First, I should probably mention that after living for two and half years in the Middle East, I feel like I am qualified to say that Arab women can be quite blunt when they want to be. I’m not saying this is a bad thing at all, it can just come as a shock to Westerners who grow up with certain politeness rules in place, and any violation of those rules usually results in one being offended. It’s something I quickly got over in the first few months living here.

Today I showed up to my local hairdresser, asking for a cut. She’s a rough woman, my hairdresser. She grabs and pulls and pokes; gentleness is not her forte.

Her first question is ‘Where is the baby?’
I laugh and reply, ‘Ma fii bebe lissa, inshallah.’ I don’t have kids yet, as God wills it.
How many years have you been married?’ she asks.
‘Almost three,’ I say.
There is lots of tutting and exchanging of glances with the other two women in the room.
‘Inshallah, God will give you babies. Enough, three years is enough to be a bride!’

In the middle of cutting my hair, she grabs my eyebrows and says, ‘You want your eyebrows done?’
Now, she’s done my eyebrows before, and it was not the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had, her lacking gentleness and all, so I quickly declined. She turns to her friend, and says, ‘But she needs it! It’s too messy! And her arms! She needs sukar (sugar wax)!’ all the while shaking her head and tutting. I don’t think she quite knows how much Arabic I understand, so I sit there trying not to laugh. But goodness, don’t go to a salon here unless you’re up for some severe scrutiny of your physical features.

I have to confess, while I was there, I was planning on writing a blog post about how this would be my last $10 cut and blow dry for a while. But then my hairdresser started lamenting loudly about how much her electricity bill was this month – 58JD! For a woman who probably only earns 250-300JD a month, that is pretty steep, and it’s an indication of how tough things are for the average Jordanian. Obviously it’s not as bad as places like Egypt, but times are tough. I’m not sure if the conversation I overheard was a deliberate ploy to soften me up for when my bill came, but if it was, it worked, because suddenly the price of a cut and blow dry went from 8JD to 14JD.

Nevertheless, I’m going to miss my shrewd, slightly grumpy, little-bit-nosy hairdresser. Maybe not the Joan Jett-Cherie Curry style hair cut, though ;)

Photo on 2013-06-13 at 19.25

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2 thoughts on “the last ten-dollar-runaways-style hair cut for a while

  1. Even after 3 years I still find it hard not to take offense sometimes! 🙂 These Arab women certainly tell it how it is don’t they – no beating around the bush, just come on out and say it right out front and centre. And there is no such thing as something being too personal to discuss – every topic is open for conversation! lol! 😉 All part and parcel of fun of living in a different culture.

    • I know, right! It’s just so funny. One time, in a staff meeting, our principal was trying to explain something about not trying hard enough or something like that and she pointed at the fattest lady and said, ‘take Mirwat for example, she’s fat. Very fat. She know she needs to lose weight, but she cannot because she doesn’t go to the gym and stick to her diet.’ Mirvat just sat there and nodded like it was perfectly okay for her to be used in an example like that and the foreigners in the room all cringed and couldn’t look anywhere we were so embarrassed for her!

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