I was quite proud of the beard and moptop I was sporting when I walked into this barbers salon in the Gold Souk area of Manama, so it was with some trepidation that I sat in front of the mirror and trussed up with a barber’s shroud. When asked, in true hairdresser style, what I wanted, the barber perhaps sensed my uncontrollable anxiety and proceeded to smile the kind of smile undoubtedly reserved for silly tourists that have never had a ‘proper’ shave in their lives. I needn’t have worried, however. My request for a trim prompted a brisk and professional snipping of my mousy brown locks, and when I opened my eyes after a burst of talcum powder and gazed into the mirror I was pleasantly surprised. Holding onto this sense of optimism, however, proved more difficult as the chair tipped backwards and I was lathered up by the smiling barber. Bearing in mind the last movie I had seen was Sweeney Todd, the sight of a cutthroat razor emerging brought on something of a cold sweat, and I tried very hard not to move one inch, lest, I wind up in the basement on the production line for some tasty meat pies. Once again, however, such nerves were unfounded.
With delicate precision the barber scraped the beard from my face, gently stretching the skin to avoid nicks and cuts. After a surprisingly short period, the lather was reapplied and the shave completed, so that my face had all the qualities of an infant’s derrière, and as I was hoisted back up again, I had to admit that it had actually been rather a pleasant experience. While the salon itself is nothing special, and the gel that was applied to my hair made me look a little like Johnny Depp (in 21 Jump Street unfortunately), when the remarkably large amount of change was put back in my no-longer trembling hand, the speedy preening turned out to be a very quick (and cheap) way to look like a far more respectable gentleman than I was when I walked in. A shave and a haircut from any one of the barbers in Manama should set you back no more than BD2.50