I felt at a bit of a loss of what to write on the blog last week. I normally try to write at least once a week, and it’s usually on a Tuesday or Wednesday, but it’s now the following Monday and while I’ve managed to find the motivation a few times to sit down and write for an hour, I’ve mainly sat staring at a blank page lacking inspiration for an interesting tale to write about. While I can recount amusing anecdotes from a while ago, to fluff up more recent tales into a full length post somehow seems disingenuous, so the following tales are from sometime in the past few weeks.
For the past eight years I’ve had all but one of my haircuts at the same place in London, Ego Hair on Noel Street. I don’t really know why I haven’t been elsewhere; it was the first place I had a haircut in London when I moved there for university and it just became my regular place for a haircut. I quite enjoyed having a friendly chat with the staff while they attempted to tame my ridiculously thick hair. The only times in the past eight years that I didn’t have a haircut at Ego was first when I lived in Miami for half a year as a student on my university exchange and second when I decided to try using clippers on number three to have ludicrously short hair. The haircut in Miami was terrible, and the short hair experiment lasted as long as it took me to grow it all back.
So it was with some annoyance that I accepted that I really needed a haircut, and I half-heartedly took advice from friends and colleagues on where to go while I futilely hoped that the problem of having to have my increasingly long hair cut in a country where I don’t speak the language would just go away. The recommendations were a place in the local mall, ‘Yes I Do’, that Nick had been to, and a place in a department store near the Bell Tower that Dave had been. I didn’t fancy a trek into the centre of town, so went to the local place. I’ve walked past it many times and it always looked busy, but I had no idea how they’d cope with mine and with me not speaking a word of useful ‘getting a haircut’ Chinese. Nick recounted his tale of going there, saying that by the end of the hour it took to cut his hair there was a group of people outside watching the waiguoren get a haircut, but it only cost ¥50.
With some trepidation I headed off to Yes I Do, mentally preparing a plan of action in case it all went horribly wrong. I’d taken a hat with me just in case and I reasoned that ‘there’s a huge Walmart upstairs where I’m sure I could get some clippers to try having a shaved head again’. With the nǐ hǎos out of the way and me pointing at my hair to explain that I needed a haircut, people sprang into action. I was ushered towards the back where I had my hair washed, then to a seat where I presume the stylist asked questions like “what would you like doing” and “how long would you like it”, but I just heard “blah blah blah blah”. My response was always to shrug and signal with my hands and fingers where it should be shorter and about how long. Eventually, after a good 40 minutes of very one-sided small-talk and every unoccupied employee coming over to see what was going on, my hair was getting to be the right length in the right places. With a double thumbs up my stylist finished his work and ushered me back towards the back to have it washed again.
It’s actually not at all bad and I’m not sure why I was so apprehensive.
The other amusing anecdote from the past few weeks is my new Chinese name. Canny, the teaching assistant in two of my classes, said that I should have a Chinese name. I agreed, and said that it should sound similar to Jon so that I can remember it. Canny asked if I wanted it to be meaningful or cute, and I asked if it could be both. As Canny was thinking of Chinese words that sound similar to Jon and are both meaningful and cute, she remembered that whenever I replace the water bottle on the water cooler I just pick up the new 20l bottle and carry it over, whereas everyone else rolls it. She therefore decided that I should be called 壮壮 (zhuangzhuang), which mainly means ‘strong’ but also ‘robust’, ‘magnificent’ or ‘grand’. So far so similar to Jon and meaningful. So what about cute? Well, 壮壮 is the humorous nickname people give to children when they’re a bit fat.
This has been a short and late blog post. Hopefully normal service will resume soon, and I’ll blog again tomorrow or Wednesday with a full length post.