Monday, February 6

A cut above nostalgia

I got my hair cut on Saturday. I went to the neighbourhood hair salon in Taman Melawati, since we were at my in-laws’ house. When I was getting my hair cut, I realised that it was probably gonna cost me like RM15 or so. Cheap right? Well, yes if you compare it to the hair salons that you can find nowadays. The ones with English or exotic names and have male and female stylists who speak with an accent. No, sir. I went to the ordinary kedai kerinting rambut that has been in operation for many years.

Aaah, the kedai kerinting rambut. You know, the one where you can get Chinese tea served to you in those cups with covers and all? Now they don’t serve Chinese tea though, but they have signs in the shop saying that drinks are being sold at reasonable prices. This is the kind of salon where they sell all kinds of supplements like the mengkudu juice from Polynesia. This is the shop where mothers bring reluctant kids to cut off their locks. This is the place where the owner and her daughter wok together, with the owner sporting a short permed hairstyle and her daughter streaks of blonde in her auburn long locks. This is the shop where the radio plays Chinese music endlessly. In the small tables underneath the mirror in front of you, you can see stacks of magazines illustrating the ‘latest’ hairstyles from the 80s (with models complete with shoulder pads).

I have always had my hair cut in these small neighbourhood salons. One time, I tried going to a fancier place but I was appalled to find that it would cost me about RM 40 for a cut. So I thought, forget about it. I have been going to these salons since I was a little kid, tagging along with my mother. I remember looking at the ladies eating kuaci in between customers. That was where I tasted my first kuaci. I recall the smells of the various lotions and chemicals used in the salons. I can still hear the loud whooshing sounds of the hairdryers and the snip-snip of the sharp scissors. I remember them all as vividly as if it were yesterday. I liked watching the ladies cutting and styling customers’ hair while having conversations at the same time with one another in Cantonese. I guess it’s more ‘lively’ than those fancy salons. And anyway, I’m wearing a tudung now, so it doesn’t really matter what my hair looks like.

The lady finished cutting my hair. I thanked her and proceeded to put on my tudung before leaving the shop. I didn’t realise at the moment that several pairs of eyes were on me, looking intently at how this tudung-tying business goes about. I felt as if I was giving a presentation. After I finished, I turned and all the hairdressers smiled at me.

The haircut cost me RM 13. A whole lot cheaper than your upmarket salons. But a whole lot more nostalgic.


MarinaDelRey said...

will the similarities ever end between us? :-)

i remember going to those lil' Chinese hair salons which u described to a T...nowadays, i think those places are a rarity and the takeover of over-priced salons have conquered... i got my latest cut at one of those Malay 'butik kecantikan' which wasn't so bad actually, considering it only cost me about rm 12..but it still can't beat those Chinese cuts I got in my schooldays... they only cost 6 bucks! :-)

mudslinger said...

i read that you got your hair cut too! man, we really have so many things in common....
i should try one of those 'butik' one day....