One of the more amusing regular experiences I get to have here in Hazaribag is going for a haircut. The first time I did this in India I simply went to one of the little huts just near to my flat. For the stunning price of Rs15 (roughly 20p) my frankly ridiculously long hair was trimmed to something approaching respectability. Bargain.
Since then I've gone up in the world of Indian barbers to a shop down the street. It's more expensive, but they have fans and (power permitting) A/C, which makes the whole experience a bit more bearable. Plus you get an Indian head massage afterwards, which can be pretty good!
As with many barbers in the UK you can get a shave here too. This isn't something I do back home, but here I thought “In for a penny....let's give it a go”. So now I go through a basically weekly (or two!) cycle of growing a ridiculous semi-beard and then getting it all shaved off again. So far, so dull right?
Well yesterday I had what I have to say was one of my strangest experiences so far in India. I went to the barber's after work and had a shave. Nothing particularly exciting about the shave (although he nicked my neck - not happy!), but just as I'm about to leave, they asked me if I wanted a massage.... ”yeah, why not” I thought....
So off he goes, 10-15 mins of face massage etc. It's pretty good. Then he stops for a bit. After a minute or so I look around and he's busy putting a glove on his right hand. That's a bit bizarre, thinks I. Not that he's putting a glove on. That's a bit weird, I admit - it's more that the glove also has a huge contraption on the back of it.....which he turns on and it starts vibrating! (Imagine a home-made version of the thing on the right....) So now he's massaging my head with this thing going like a jackhammer, then my neck, then he pushes me forward in the chair and starts running it up and down my back. Except the guy to my right decides he's not doing it right, so he gets involved too....
...then it's on to my shoulder and arms. I half expected him to ask me to stand up so he could do my legs too! Eventually, after another go at my head, he stops that one.
Then it got really weird.
He pulls out this thing that looks a bit like a drill from a child's toy set. Except imagine it with a sandpaper adapter on it – a small, circular disk on the front. Luckily this disk was not like sandpaper, it was smooth, because he proceeds to use this thing to massage my face!!!! Basically it vibrates too and he spent a good five minutes rubbing this thing all over my face.
I guess it's something like this:
….except the one he used was bright yellow and so it looked like it had been bought in the Early Learning Centre.
I'm not really sure what the point of it was to be honest. It wasn't very relaxing, and rather than massaging my forehead like you'd expect, he seemed determined to "massage" my eye sockets and nostrils. Now, I'm no expert on massage, but I'm not sure that's standard. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if he was even a trained masseur at all..... ;-)
So, I've now been in this barber's for about an hour and he's finally finished. Oh. Except of course he's not. Now he wants to put some rose water in my eyes (I have to decline this on account of my contact lenses)! To be honest I think he was a bit bored and was beginning to just pick things up from around the shop and see what stupid things he could do to the idiot Englishman. If you do a search the whole thing is probably already up on Youtube....
I'd been intending heading to the lake for sunset and having a coffee and a bit of reading. My massage marathon meant that it was now pitch black outside. Next time I think I'll take the sunset....probably more relaxing!