Friday, October 24, 2008

a lesson from Gina

When we left the United States some years ago I decided at the time that I'd just let my hair grow. You can't just trust another nationality with your hair, that just wouldn't be fair. So it was with some reluctance and persuasion that I went in to Gina's Salon. My friends recommended her, with the caveat that sometimes she gets it a little shorter than they'd like but overall she's good. She was also Italian and spoke english. These were selling points because in our country in Africa most of the stylists could do African hair just fine but the hair of a white person is a little different and they normally were a little bewildered by what the white lady wanted done with her hair. That and there's a language barrier. So Gina being a white lady herself and speaking english seemed like a good deal. So I explained to Gina what I wanted and she spun around the chair so that I couldn't see the mirror and proceeded to cut. When she was done, I renamed her "Gina the Omnipotent Hair Despot" because she didn't do anything like what I wanted. And it was then that I learned not to take my hair so seriously (not that I really ever did before) and that hair cutting is a cultural lesson.

So fast forward to our time here and I've needed hair cuts. Its crazy HOT here people. CRAZY HOT! Jonathan told me that we technically live in and Urban Heat Island where the city itself increases its own temperature by 3-5 degrees Celcius, that's a lot when you're talking Celcius. This is no place for long hair unless you love sweaty ponytails. So over the last few months I've made the choice to have shorter hair. The first time I went in to Miracle Salon, the young man took 3 inches off and he was scared. Local women are a little nuts about their hair and he was afraid he was going to be in trouble. I loved it and thanked him. A month later it was too hot for that hair and so I went back to Miracle and told the same young man I wanted it shorter still. I found a picture and again he did a wonderful job. I left feeling youthful with my short hair. He was happy. Today I went in for a trim and I tried to explain just a little trim. A little cut that's all. Well I lost a good bit more than a trim. I think I have his haircut at the moment and his hair style. But I was reminded of my first lesson from Gina all those years ago, hair cutting is language intensive and a cultural lesson. If you don't want to learn then you best live with the sweaty ponytail. So I sit with my boy haircut remembering what it is to be a humble learner; but my neck is cooler... so that's good.

Pictures to come.
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