Jon Wilks gets more than he bargained for at a reputable Doha salon
The search for a decent barber is a difficult process in any part of the world, but 15 months into my time here, I’m still struggling to find ‘Mr Right’. Silent is always best, as far as I’m concerned. I just want him to dole out the short back and sides and leave me to practise my moody face in the mirror. If, by the end of our time together, he knows anything other than my surname and hat size, then he knows too much. It couldn’t be more simple.
Doha’s barbers are nearly always happily mute, so there’s no real worry there. The difficulty has always been in getting them to give me the haircut I envisage. It’s as though quantifiers apply differently here: ‘short’ usually translates as ‘set the clippers to skinhead’, while ‘don’t take too much off, please’ invariably results in a formless mass that would make Barbie’s Ken proud. My son never leaves without having been reimagined as a Lego man, and mullet danger is real and present, whoever you are.
During a recent scalping at a reputable downtown hotel, my tormentor turned to me and asked, ‘What do you do about your inside nose?’ It was a very reasonable question, and since I’m a reasonable man I explained that he needn’t concern himself with the workings of my inner face. He was adamant, however, that I leave having experienced the full extent of his talents. With a hint of dread, I agreed to let him trim the hairs on the inside of my snout, at which point he whipped out two cotton buds dipped in hot wax and shoved them as far up my nostrils as he could. It was as though he was digging for brain.
Five minutes later he returned and yanked them from my face. There was a small amount of blood – just enough to make me realise I had a story – and a few seconds of intense pain. He laid out the buds in front of me like a hunter displaying his kill. Sure enough, the freshly dried wax balls were embedded with several hundred hairs each. In the mirror, I could see him staring down at them over my shoulder, his own nostrils flared and his mind mulling something over. ‘We are,’ he eventually said softly, ‘each of us, human beings.’ You see? Silent is always best. I’m not going back there again.