Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The day is short and the work is much

It has been a long time since I wrote an entry for this blog. It doesn't mean that life has stopped and there hasn't been anything to tell, actually the contrary is quite true.
Things have been very busy: High Holy Days, work, daily life. Too much to get all done in one day. There wasn't even time to get one's hair cut. Well, let's say that I would have been able to find the time, but I wouldn't have been happy to spend Y7500 ($83) on something so ephemeral as a hair cut at the nearby barbershop. So I had to wait to have a little more time so that I could go to the Y1000 ($13, more at my speed) which is further away and at the end it was worth the 20 minutes walk.
This barbershop is on the second floor of a building, tucked away behind an anonymous Y1000 sign. Hadn't someone told me I would have just assumed that the barber-pole outside the building was just an eccentric decoration (which would not be so uncommon in Japan after all).
So, I got upstairs and there was a line. The barber, a burly woman, said something with a very harsh tone of voice and without using any of the polite language forms, and with her chin pointed to a stack of numbered CDs. I interpreted it as "Get your number and sit down!"
When my turn came she took my Y1000 and then seated me down and asked something. I assumed she wanted to know what kind of hair-cut I wanted so I responded with the sentence I had prepared in advance: "Please do not cut it too short" and I was sure that it would be enough. But no, the lady, like every good Japanese person I've had my interactions with so far, had to say something back which I didn't understand. My subsequent statement "I don't understand Japanese" was completely disregarded, if anything it generated more questions. After a couple of Wakarimasen, I don't understand, I decided to adopt a different strategy: I would answer alternatively hai and iie, yes and no, without having any idea about the questions.
I got a decent hair-cut. Really nothing special, I've done better myself with my faithful hair-clipper, but the whole experience was really amusing.
At the end she pulled out a vacuum cleaner with a long flexible extension. While I was still thinking, "Why doesn't she take this bib off before vacuuming the floor?!" she was vacuuming my face and neck.