Yesterday, while walking around Eldoret I decided to get a haircut. I have been a little bit hesitant to do this in Kenya because my hair is different than pretty much everyone else around me. I just wasn’t sure what the result might be. There was that fact, along with the sensational reports in the local press about people contracting HIV through a haircut. This could be possible under extremely unhygienic circumstances I suppose, but would be highly unlikely. I selected a place called Executive Cuts in a shopping mall near a Tuskys department store. As I expected, when I walked in all eyes turned towards me. “How much for a haircut?” I asked. “300 shillings ($3).” the barber replied. He was a tall young guy, with a friendly smile. “Sawa,” I said and sat down to wait. A few minutes later he called me up and I sat down. There was the usual, “How do you want it?” “Just shorter. Do your best,” I said. As expected, he brought out the electric razor and selected the longest comb attachment. He looked at me as if to ask, “Is this okay?” and I nodded. He carefully sprayed everything down with a blue liquid that I assumed was some kind of disinfectant. Very soon I was like a sheep being shorn, with white locks falling all around me. It was shorter than I would normally wear it, but he did a good job and even kept it a bit longer with a touch of style in the front. I was then sent to another section where a nice young lady expertly shampooed my hair, then applied faintly eucalyptus-smelling waxy substance and rubbed the heck out of my scalp and neck, finishing with a blow dry and light combing. I thanked both of them and paid my 300 shillings, then left a 100 shilling tip which is a lot here.
When I got back to the hotel I took a nap. When I woke up I had a text message from an optometry student at the university. Many students check in with me every now and then. I wrote that I had gotten a haircut. She wanted to see it. “Take a picture and send it,” she wrote. “You want to see a picture of my bald head?” I replied. It was about dinnertime so I headed to the hotel bar where they served food. I told the bartender that a student wanted to see a picture of me with my new haircut. “Do you have an egg?” I asked. He laughed and thought it would be funny. We both decided that surely they would have an egg in the kitchen. So I headed over to the kitchen and told the chef my plan. He was enthusiastic to help. He brought out an egg, a brown egg. “Um, do you have a lighter one?” I asked. “I am mzungu, after all,” I said. We both laughed. He found a lighter one and I took a picture of it and sent it to the student. I headed back to the bar and soon I got the “Hahaha!!!” I was hoping to receive.
I am having fun in Kenya, and fortunately the people here love to have fun too.