Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Barber Story

A discussion in another forum about how to invest and spend ones money reminded me of an experience last year.

I was in Mombasa last year with a Kale friend of mine. A true Kale. He is so black he is dark blue. But sharp as nails, a very excellent programmer, he had a peculiar goat-like smell that I never understood (was he bathing without soap, or not bathing at all?) though he was a jolly good fellow, astute with politics and current affairs. He had very little idea about how to dress though but who cares, he is a man, just like me. The defining attributes in a man are power (build or position), resources (money) and status (a good job, position etc) - looks, style and other superficial stuff are just manure that women seldom care about. Fellow men of course don't give a rat's ass one way or the other. He married at 23 and has a kid and is building a house and that "project" is the centerpiece of his life right now. By all standards, he is a nice fellow and we hung out a lot coz we both don't drink and enjoy playing pool.

"Nataka kuenda kunyolewa" I tell him as we walk down one of Mombasa's streets. The sun is blazing down on us.

"Si ungoje ukanyolewe Nairobi, kwani kuna haraka gani. Hiyo nywele inakimbia?"

"Wacha niende, tutaonana baadaye" Most often, I am economic with words especially when I don't want to argue over decisions I have made. He realizes there is no talking me out of this one.

"Unaenda kunyolewa wapi?"

"Hapo karibu na SummerLink"

"Wancharge pesa ngapi?"

"Kama 150 hivi"

"Ati 150? 150 yote?" He is visibly shocked. Deeply offended, in fact.

"150" I say calmly, bored to death.

"Kwani wamenilimia shamba gani hiyo? Mimi nanyolewanga na 30 bob. Hata Eldy wakipata 50 bob ni bahati sana. Siwezi nyolewa na 150. Hiyo ni kuharibu pesa. Kutoa tu nywele kidogo wanataka 150?" He is emphatic.

"Wewe twende ukitaka kunyolewa nitakulipia"

So we went. The queue was long. We had around six guys. There was a lady and two barbers. There was some discussion about how fucked up our politics is and he gave his useful opinions on the matter. My turn came and I got the cut and the lady delivered the massage and all dark thoughts in my head were massaged away and replaced by a sweet smell. Of course, as she moved this way and that, fluttering over me like a mother hen and deploying her ample bosom skilfully, I closed my eyes and submitted to her strong, soft fingers and sweet-smelling lotions. Hmmmm...I let myself be swallowed by her attention and allowed her to take control of my head. Now warm water, now sweet-smelling, thick lather, now a scrub, now an aftershave, now a disinfectant, now a lotion, now a was heaven...I didn't want to go home.

His turn eventually came and we were left smelling fresh and crisp and a little turned on. He promptly paid the 150 before I could pay for him. As we were leaving, I asked him "Bado unaona hiyo 150 ni mob sana?"

"Its worth it" He replied, deeply humbled. "Its worth it" He mumbled again to himself, with a far-away, satisfied look, the lotion working its way into his formerly dry scalp and feeling like heaven.

"That is what I call a haircut" I told him as one would tell a two year old. There was a gentle breeze kissing us. He was too satisfied to agree and he nodded deeply. Not in assent to my remark. By this time, the mint in the scrub must have been tantalizing his hair follicles.

I didn't need to nudge him back to the present. I let him enjoy. Bugger.

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