Did the CIA send you to kill me?


My hair was looking a bit ragged, so I thought I would go for a haircut. Meeta told me she knew a good place and would book for me, and asked me if I wanted a head massage. I wasn’t entirely sure what this involved with respect to my haircut, so I was a bit sheepish, but she went ahead and booked it. In the US, they will kinda sorta give you a little massage while washing your hair, and old style barbers will do a couple of minutes on the back of the neck, but this is nothing I have ever ordered separately, so I wasn’t sure if we had actually ordered a service or were just asking whoever to be sure to spend a little extra time touching me while doing their normal wash and cut.

I arrived at the salon and they seated me and told me that the massage guy was busy, could he do it after the cut, and I said sure. I showed the stylist a pic of myself with a previous haircut I liked and told him that was what I wanted. He then asked about my beard and I said sure, trim it a bit to match, but no shave. The guy was pretty thorough I will give him that, trimming my hair and then beard and nose hairs and eyebrows and then taking the straight razor to trace a nice beard line in my neck and cheeks. I was pretty impressed already as the massage guy came over to do his bit. He covered me in towels, then asked me if I wanted coconut or pineapple or about 4 other things I can’t remember. I wasn’t sure what exactly he would be doing, but I have positive associations with all things coconut, so I chose that.

Nothing could have prepared me for what came next. It started innocently enough, with a general top of the head rub down that became progressively more vigorous. Then, he really started to put some elbow grease into it, and it felt like he was trying tocompletely knead out any line or furrow or vein that might be interfering with some platonic ideal of smoothness. He reached for the coconut oil or lotion and started to work it in to each and every pore on my head. At one point, both his thumbs were pressing very deeply into my eyes and I had a slight, panicky realization that he could be an assassin sent to kill or at least blind me. Then he moved away and back to the top of my head thankfully, which was quite pleasant if by this point a bit hallucination inducing. Following that, he moved to my neck, front and back, and then attacked each shoulder, arm and hand with an intensity I have not witnessed outside of certain experiences combining drugs with sex, or perhaps in a movie that depicts a deranged vet on a killing spree of some kind. After that, it was back to my head and face, where he spent another few minutes rubbing, and polishing. At this point, some 20 minutes had passed and I was wondering if the service was one in which I was supposed to say “stop” (or just as likely, “uncle”) when I had had enough.

Just then, he stopped, and abruptly walked away. I was left there quivering and wondering if I should now get up and get my jacket and leave. I sat there for a few minutes pondering the correct course of action in this culture, when suddenly he returned with a steaming hot towel that he very tightly wrapped around the top of my head as he leaned me back in the chair. Then he got some sort of moisturizing lotion and started working it into my face and eye sockets and nose, squeezing and pushing and preventing me from catching my breath. After a few minutes of this, he put hot towels on my face as well, and left me immobile with those on my face, with nothing but a tiny breathe hole for several long minutes. At this point I was pretty sure I must be on some sort of Indian version of Candid Camera, and any minute someone would come out to ask me how it felt and why didn’t I tell him to stop or figure out that this was all an elaborate joke.

Finally, he finished, and then washed my hair and dried it, and I paid and tipped and left. The entire encounter ended up costing about $16. And when I saw Ashni I asked her if it was normal to have this treatment for a simple head massage and she verified that it was as expected.

Wow. I definitely have to try this again sometime.

Limoncello hair spa


One of the guys I had met here recommended his barber, and I thought it couldn’t hurt to go for a trim, so I went about an hour ago. It was a tiny underground place at the corner of my street, really like an old man’s barber shop, nothing special at all. I got in and no one really spoke English, but I think I got across to them what I wanted, and they motioned me to sit in a chair. Then one of the mean wardens from the hamam I was in last week (well, he looked a lot like him) came over to begin my haircut. The first part of it, while very thorough, seemed to go as a normal haircut would. And then he moved onto my eyebrows before I could stop him (and worried a little that I would end up looking too plucked), and then to my ears (yes, as we get older hair grows there as well), and finally (I kid you not) to my nostrils with a special pair of scissors. He spent a fair amount of time there before dusting me off in a huge cloud of powder, then removing my many wrappings and cleaning up the lower back of my neck. I thought at this point I was done, but he pushed me gently back into the chair and moved to pick up a bottle from the counter. He then squeezed a lot of some very strong smelling lemon verbena alcohol pledge bug repellant liquid into his hands. He then wiped a bunch just under my nose (like the way they would kidnap people with chloroform back in 70’s action movies), and what was left he rubbed all over the rest of my head and began a very vigorous massage. I thought I would pass out from the stuff I was inhaling, so I wiped my nose a bit and started to come to while he was pounding away at my skull, face and neck. I have to admit that after it was over I felt mightily refreshed, if a little dizzy. And the whole thing was about 5 bucks! That was the best cheap spa treatment I have ever had. And my haircut looks pretty damn good, if I do say so.