That time of the month

I would dive for you~! .. maybe not.

There should be a witty observation on the season but I’ll let you have a picture in lieu of that. Weather’s freezing thanks to the rain, at any rate, so it doesn’t really take much to imagine. Or maybe that’s a side-effect of the mild fever that’s still in effect.

As I was walking through the lane of shophouses to get a haircut earlier this afternoon, I was surprised to hear Christmas songs playing. In Desa Setapak. Which is the last place on earth I expected to hear them; then again, it was a Western food stall. Probably fits in with the business image, gives it more “street cred” and all that.

Odd as it sounds, I’ve got to admit I hate going for haircuts.

I cut my hair in a place — *miko — filled with people who speak mostly Mandarin and a smattering of Cantonese, and it isn’t really something I look forward to, given how the last time I spoke Mandarin with any degree of fluency was in kindergarten, when my paternal grandma was still alive. To say nothing of how my Cantonese vocab doesn’t include hairdressing instructions.

So ever since I started cutting my hair there this year, it’s been a very tricky, laughable sequence of events such as this:

  1. Bring a picture of what I want my hair to look like)
  2. Talk to whoever attends to me in basic Cantonese
  3. Nod whenever they reply in Mandarin to me even though I don’t understand a single word — I can usually infer what they’re saying through context alone, though
  4. Show the picture when it’s time for a haircut
  5. Repeat a lot of 3. throughout haircut/hair wash/paying at the counter

I found a better way around it this time, in any case.

The trick is to reduce as much communication as possible (this gives off the impression that I’m either shy, tired, or sullen, which, given the circumstances, I couldn’t really be bothered to correct), as several sessions there have taught me. So the last time I cut my hair in October, this guy who dresses like it’s the ’80s and looks like a cousin of mine working in Singapore, attends to me. Halfway through the haircut when I’m trying to tell him in awful, broken Canton how I want him to use his better judgement for a hairstyle, it comes to light that he can only mostly understand Mandarin. So we switch to English, and everything goes well.

He even gives me a name card when the whole horrifying ordeal was over. Suddenly my life’s a lot less stressful and embarrassing today — all I had to do was walk in, show the card and mumble a few words about whether or not the guy, whose name was Edison, is working, and immediately I’m ushered to a seat without the needless conversation those seated at the counter try to strike up. Good thing they assume all guys who walk in want a haircut and nothing else.

It wasn’t without its drawbacks, though. When I’m asked if I’d like it “shorter?” I find myself replying mumbling, to my horror, “yes”; because “no, I’d like it to be xxx and yyy around the zzz” would mean fishing for non-existent parts of my vocabulary, and I can’t get over how vain I am to not use English at times like this.

Having said that, it’s nice to have short(er) hair again. Oh, how much I’d give for a translator…

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2 Comments on “That time of the month”

  1. yyen Says:

    Thank God for Cantonese/Mandarin and how they can keep some people quiet. =D

  2. Owen Says:

    Thank God you’re fluent in English. (touchĂ©)


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