Monday, May 2, 2011

Shave & A Haircut: Two Rupees

Freshly shaved.
Any respectable Indian man's grooming regime includes a professional shave.  And with my dark skin, and deep (Rupee) pockets, I decided to support a new barber every couple days.  Each shave costs between 35 and 75 cents.  This includes two fresh razor blades, the highest quality shaving cream, and several uncomfortable applications of aftershave.*  An interesting aspect of the Indian shave is where it takes place.  Sometimes you get a full shop.  Sometimes you get just a chair on the side of the road.  You just never know when you go for an Indian shave.  As you'll see, every shave was a little exciting, a little scary, but always very very close.

 *I'm glad I never found out what one pays for a used blade without shaving cream.

Chronologically, and from north to south, here are some of the photo highlights of my Indian shaves.

My first shave was in Jaiselmar.

The shop had gentleman's club style black-out windows. 
What exactly do they shave?
Note the thick lather and shiny, brand new blade.
His hands.  My face.
Smashed, smushed, and rubbed together  for many uncomfortable minutes.  
At the next shave we ditched luxuries like windows, a door, and even running water.  Literally taking it to the street Pappu brought me and Russ to the "best man in all Udaipur."  He promised "even richest man in Udaipur come shave [at this] man."    With that surprising endorsement, I hopped into the chair on the shoulder of the road, and we got started.  And he did give me a fantastic shave.

See the bike behind me?
We really were on the side of the road.
With the razor blade on my neck all I could hope was that he
would not be distracted by the constant blaring and beeping of horns.
Halfway done.  A fresh blade for each side of the face ensures
 that both of my cheeks are equally (and baby's butt-like) smooth.
I momentarily panicked when he slipped his hands
into my nose and mouth to get those hard to reach hairs.
Towards the end of the shave you get a hearty blast
directly in the eyeball.  The water in his spray bottle was distressingly dark.
Also, where did this water come from? 
There was no running water at his elementary-school-desk setup.

Next is the vigorous face massage.
You want to make sure all the water from the spray gets deeply rubbed into your pores.

And we made it.
A great shopless shave.

Take a look at Russ's shave.  It really shows just how street-side we were.
And Russ was so brave (despite the barber's idle chit-chat as the blade slide over and around his neck).

[JLM: The best part of this operation was when Russ had to ask for a Frenchie, the Indian term for goatee. Obviously, this immediately became Russ' nickname for the next month.]

Pappu looking at me somewhat suspiciously, as if getting a shave
on the side of the road was not the most common thing in Udaipur.

By the time we reached Kochin I fully trusted the Indian barber.  With his deft hands and sharp blades I was ready to go all the way.  And we did go all the way...

Scrape, scrape, scrape.

Ooooooo Eeeeeeee.  That is a shiny head.

My freshly shaved head felt so weird. 
Soft and spongy, but also sandpapery.
[JLM: It felt like the belly of a crocodile]

Then, of course, we did a proper face shave.

I left the barber shop as a gangsta-rapper.
Jesse left the baber shop muttering: "It will grow back; it has to grow back."


  1. I cannot decide which you are...brave or dumb!

  2. I'm just thankful that it's all grown back.

  3. Why did you leave the eyebrows? I bet it would have looked even better without them. Next time, please?

  4. i just picture a sign across the picture:

  5. @Sue - maybe the sign would read "HAIR WANTED"


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