Sunday, March 14, 2010

the haircut

It was something I didn't have time to get done before I left: in between getting my tickets sorted out, my last vaccinations, and my critical purchases for survival in Haiti, getting my hair ready for the tropics was simply not a high enough priority at the time. But after a month or so, it really started bothering me - it is hot here, and long hair doesn't help -, so I have been looking for an opportunity to have my hair cut. Not easy. One day I didn't have the time (in fact, many days I didn't have the time), another day there was no car available (in fact, many days there was no car available), but finally, today, I just ignored all my other responsibilities, commanded a vehicle, and went to Salon Grimelde in Rue Faubert, Petionville. Recommended by friends of mine.

Right. Saturday morning is clearly grooming day for the Haitian elite. The place was packed, every chair was occupied. I indicated that I was, uhhm, somewhat in a hurry, but that was no problem. A folding chair was quickly arranged, and put right in the middle, and there we go. The lady hairdresser was from the Dominican Republic, so I switched to Spanish, in which I think I can better explain how I want my hair to be cut then in French. Some minutes later somebody had found a more comfortable chair, which was carried from the back, one of the customers was, with her chair and all, moved to the side, and an extra place was created in front of the mirror. And I moved, with partly cut hair, with towels and robe, from folding chair to comfi chair.

But it was not me that was of interest. Had I already told you that I was the only man? The rest of the place was packed with women, clearly the local upper class. No other foreigners. Many of these women must have been here for hours already; some had curls set, others were carefully having their hair touched up, and from quite a few others I have no idea what was being done to them. No less than seven women were sitting under huge hair dryers, and several had their nails manicured while waiting. And all of that whilst at least half of the clientele was happily chatting in their mobile phones. They all seem to know each other, they are pretty familiar with the hairdressers, too, probably come here every Saturday. It was quite a scene, one that at least kept me awake during the entire session - I normally fall asleep halfway.

Of course with all that entertainment I forgot to keep an eye on what was happening to my own head. Afterwards, I in fact thought it was quite OK, short, fast, and for European standards pretty cheap: what else do I need? But the comments I received after I got back to the office - especially Gina, our Haitian administration manager, cannot stop giggling every time I walk into her office -, are such that I have now decided not to post a new photo of myself for the foreseeable future....

Maybe I should try to explain in French next time.


  1. Dear Mr. Oudmayer,
    I am with the disaster response/public communication site Humanity Road, Inc. ( I am trying to find a contact person (name, email address, phone number, if available) with Save the Children in Dessalines, a city in Artibonite District so we will have it on our website for people who are looking for help. Please respond to my email address Thank you!

  2. It's quite an experience going to an hairdresser on a Saturdaymorning.
    I should like to see your picture now!
    It's nice you found those nice restaurants with good food.
    Good luck and take care.