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Page 9

Picture of older man standing in outdoor alley, under a sign that says Cat Toc and next to a mirro hanging on the wall and a chairin front of the mirror. The man is waving to the camera.



So what do a shaved poodle and I have in common? You know how you can look at a poodle and know immediately that it has just returned from the pet groomer because the fur has been shaved down to the skin? Well, that's what I look like at the moment, having recently been to my “barber”. 

I have been to my current barber twice since arriving in Hanoi, but he is not the man in picture to the left (more on him later). My current barber is located not far from my apartment (and the park by the way), on the way to the indoor market where I shop for groceries; which, is how I located him. His shop is situated on the inside corner of a street turning to the right that merges with another street. My barber shares a small 14' x 14' room with another business. On his side, he cuts hair. On the opposite side of the room is a business that takes pictures of people for passports, identity cards, or whatever official photo you need. 

The first time I stopped by on my way back from the grocery to get a haircut -"Xin chào anh, cắt tóc bao nhiêu tiền?" (hello person older than me, hair cut how much money?) - “Sáu mươi nghìn” (60,000 [Vietnamese dong] $2.50 USD) - he had someone “in the chair”. So, I sat down to wait and the man running the photo business immediately poured me a cup of tea to drink while I waited…soooo much a very typically Vietnamese gesture/custom. Turned out the photographer spoke just enough English, and with the help of google translate on my phone, that we managed a short conversation. The Vietnamese are some of the friendliest people. Of course, it helped that I'm probably the only foreigner that has ever gotten a haircut in that shop…so I'm a bit of a curiosity. 

Now, I don't know my barber's name yet, but next time I will ask him. This time, he actually smiled at me and said “okay, okay” to let me know my haircut was finished. Progress. The first time he was all business with no talk. Next time he will figure out that I am going to keep coming back and I suspect he may even say hello to me. 

Well back to the haircut. Apparently, my barber has decided that the shaved poodle look is what best fits me, as both times I've walked away with the same “style”. My hair is about one eighth of an inch long on the sides and back and is about half an inch on the top. Not a bowl cut, mind you, but a blended scissor cut. 

Also, apparent to him, I look like Sasquatch. Both times after he was done cutting my hair, he took a straight razor and shaved my forehead (who knew I had hair there?), my earlobes (who knew I had hair there?), the top rim of my ears (who knew…) and then, despite that fact that I had shaved that morning, he proceeded to lather me up and shave my face, finishing with shaving the back of my neck. All this, mind you, for 60,000 VND. This, it seems, is the standard haircut at this shop as I've seen him do the same procedure to others. I also know I am paying the local's price because the cost is posted on the wall and it says “cắt tóc…60,000”.

I plan, at some point in the future, to take his picture and a picture of the shop. But timing is everything. 

Now for the picture to the left. This is a picture of Mr Hùng, the 80-year-old barber who cut my hair in his "shop", which you see in the picture, when I was here on my Fulbright in 2018-19. I actually went that location to get my hair cut with him again only find his shop was no longer there. The chair, the mirror the shelf, etc. all gone. He would now be 85. I don't know if he was a victim of COVID or if he finally retired or if he is no longer capable of cutting hair. It is sad for me. He and I got along real well, and he only charged 30,000 VND for the same haircut and treatment. I guess I'll never know.





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