I asked a pharmacist who appeared to be Indian, if she had a recommendation for a hair cuttery. Tanzania, as much of Africa, has a large population of people of Indian descent. Often, they own businesses and shops. Particularly in Tanzania you can see a lot of Indian influence in the culture, the cuisine, the religion and the styles of dress. The pharmacist gave me directions to a place a few blocks away. We found it easily, although it was odd that the all the windows were tinted so you couldn't see in. As we walked in, the owner frantically shouted “Oh there are no men allowed inside.” Oops. Strike one—cultural faux pax. We apologized and Jed left to find an internet cafe.
I returned and she took me back for a hair wash. I felt like I was in a secret ladies society behind the tinted windows. Not surprisingly, most women in the shop were Indian, except the two ladies washing hair. When the boisterous owner sat me down in her chair, and asked me what I wanted I said, "just a trim." She wrinkled up her face and said “You definitely need a change. You need to make your cheekbones more noticeable.” From her tone, I knew I would not leave that chair with the haircut I envisioned. The lady took out a haircut magazine that looked like it was from 1994. She thumbed through it for a long time and finally showed me a picture of a terrible haircut (think the original Jennifer Aniston) that I would never be able to style as we backpack through Africa and beyond. I tried to emphasize I wanted it long and easy and able to pull back. So she went to work. The first snip was already more off than I wanted.
We chatted as she snipped away. She assured me I would be very happy with the cut. 15 minutes later she was done; It was certainly the fastest haircut I'd ever had. It was pretty close to the '94 Aniston I was dreading. However, the damage was done and I faked my enthusiasm. The elderly granny getting a pedicure assured me it looked MUCH better. I paid only 10,000 TZ shillings, or $6. Hair grows back, so I'll chalk it up to a cultural experience. I will say its already growing on me a bit, so maybe my new hairdresser knew what I needed more than I expected. And for only $6 and 15 minutes of my time, I guess I can't complain too much...