Photo credit: x-entertainment.com
Well...not quite, but close. I had yet to get a haircut since arriving in Nepal at the beginning of March and after foregoing shaving on the trail I was rocking a look much closer to Jerry Garcia than the Gordon Gekko chic I embraced while at the law firm.
With the trek behind us, it was time to revisit to my clean-cut roots. My return to the familiar was achieved with a trip through the slightly frightening unknown: the Nepali haircut and shave. Not unlike our trek, this was a journey of body and soul. Buckle your seatbelts -- it's going to be a wild cosmetologic journey.
The haircut was simple enough.
Before the lather went on and the razor came out, there was the vigorous full-face rubdown with a lotion that created a burning/stinging sensation, effectively lighting my face on fire. If my pores were asleep before, they were certainly at attention now.
But check out that handiwork!
Ethereal lather was applied and provided a stark contrast to the clinical sharpness of the straight razor. Up to this point in my life I had never received a straight-razor shave, and my mind kept flashing to a classic scene in the movie Dumb & Dumber where Jim Carrey's character uses a ketchup packet to fake a fatal injury during such a shave. Yet as the floral bloom of the lotion and lather attacked my senses, I surrendered to the blade, allowing myself to assume for the moment that this Nepali barber was undoubtedly a trained, certified, and licensed professional practicing in an insured and bonded establishment. Deep down I knew nothing could be further from the truth, but since the man had a razor to my neck, I didn't think this was the time to start asking sensitive questions.
The shave was a success, and I lived to tell the tale thanks to my still-intact vocal chords, windpipe, and juggular. All it took was a pinch of good luck.
After the shave there were two -- two -- more coats of lotion, the last of which was removed with the gentle scraping of a taught string. Now that I was shorn, lubed, and fully exfoliated, the natural end to my shave would be a thorough facial massage (I politely -- and I think wisely -- declined the potently pungent aftershave). Have you ever had someone gently massage your eyeballs while your eyes are closed? Well, I can now say that I have and declare that it's not entirely unenjoyable.
This barber's enthusiastic hands briskly started working their way south, but fortunately I was able to halt them at my shoulders before I was stuck with a bill for a full-body massage (one of the additional services provided by this particular barber, for a fee).
My adventure in Nepali barberdom and beauty had come to an end and I had, in fact, survived...if only by a whisker.