What's it Like Getting Your Hair Styled in India?

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Getting my hair done in India
Getting my hair done in India

First of all, my apologies to my wonderful hair stylist back home in the states! Unfortunately it had been way too long since I got my hair colored, cut and styled and I knew I had to do something about it. So I visited a few salons and decided on one owned by a young hip looking Asian fellow just a couple blocks away from our hotel. He wears his blond hair in a man bun and looks pretty progressive, so I decided to give him a try.

My appointment was at 10:00 and I arrived 5 minutes early to find him and his staff outside smoking. Most people smoke here. Since the smog is so bad I think they figure there’s nothing to lose. Obviously he and his staff were on “Indian time.”  Everyone is consistently late here for everything. He finished his cigarette and then unlocked the front door and asked me to take a seat.

The first thing I noticed was that he had 8 guys (all very young) working in about a 300 square foot space. One started sweeping, one started looking through my hair, one brought me bottled water and the rest stood there and stared at me. The owner brought me a book of hair colors and I pointed to the one I wanted. Then Ramm (the guy touching my hair) asked me to sit in one of the stylist chairs. I could feel myself sweating already as the tension took over. I mean it’s my hair!!! What if they screwed it up!?

Ramm started mixing the color while I slammed down my water, wishing it had booze in it. Then he brought the bowl of hair dye over and started to part my hair. I immediately stopped him and asked him to wash my hair first!  After all, I hadn’t washed it in a couple of days and it was full of hair products and dust. I didn’t want any of the chemicals to react with the dye. He looked at me like he didn’t understand and went to discuss it with the owner. They had what sounded like an argument and then the owner came over to my chair and told me there was no need to wash it before coloring. I decided to just relax and let them do what they do.

Typical Hair Salon in India
Typical Hair Salon in India

So for the next hour and a half I just sat there, drinking my water and watched 5 different guys work on my hair while 3 others stood and watched. Labor here is cheap! I mean really cheap! Many people make around $3 USD per day. So they had one guy brush my hair while another held the blow dryer. One guy put the foils on why another guy painted on the dye. Ramm was the only guy that did the trim and I think he did a good job.

In between my main color and highlights they handed me a magazine to read. It was only a year old, not bad!  It was titled “Femina” and looked a lot like Cosmo for Indian women. I was pleasantly surprised to see the cover had stories about sex, along with fashion and fitness. That’s pretty shocking for a country where public displays of affection are frowned upon. I quickly picked 2 articles to read. One was on the pros and cons of an arranged marriage versus a “love marriage.” The other was on revving up your sex life. I was expecting something like leave the light on for a change. It was actually an entertaining magazine and i just might have to go find myself a current issue somewhere.

The magazine I read during my appointment
The magazine I read during my appointment

While waiting in the chair for my highlights to set in I felt my bladder getting very uncomfortable from all the water I had been drinking. So I asked if I could use the washroom. Again, Ramm looks at me like I’m crazy, goes to the owner and another loud discussion takes place. Then the owner comes over and explains to me that the washroom is under construction. Uh oh!  I really had to go! So I sat there and tried not to think about it, but I was getting more uncomfortable by the minute.

I know several of the shop keepers in that mall and in fact even had dinner with the guy that owns the kitchen supply store. His name is Rameet, so I sent him a text to check the story. He texted back that it’s not really under construction but they often say that because it’s really bad and I wouldn’t be able to breathe properly in it. I guess that mean it stinks!  Well, if it’s bad by Indian standards I would rather pee my pants, I can tell you that!  When Ramm said it was time to wash out my highlights, I told him to do the wash and trim quickly so I could get back to the hotel and use the washroom. I didn’t care about a style any longer, or even about my shopping list!

The receptionist and crew
The receptionist and crew

He finished in about 10 minutes flat. I threw 4000 rupees at them plus a tip (about $60 USD) and ran back to the hotel to empty my bladder! When I finally looked at my dry hair about 15 minutes later I was happy to see that it looked great, even un styled. Whew! I will probably go back but next time I will avoid drinking any beverages before I go or while I am there!

 

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