Thursday, April 14, 2011

Global Haircut Experience - Part 3

Price: NOK 100 ($ 18, excluding tip) in Oslo and NOK 200 ($36, excluding tip) in Stavanger. These are the minimum in these two cities for Gents. The rates otherwise can go upto NOK 400 ($72, excluding tip) for men and start from NOK 300 ($54, excluding tip) for women.

Norway is one of the most expensive places on earth. It’s a fact well articulated by the various surveys available on the internet.  If you come to Norway and stay here for some time, you realize the gravity of things being expensive. For example, take the case of the haircut. Haircuts are really expensive here and its no surprise that a lot of Norwegian men don’t have much hair or are close to bald. Is cold weather not conducive for hair growth on scalp? Or are the genes of the current generation Norwegians aware of the sky high prices for haircut, hence decide not to allow hair growth? I would though not like to generalize that Norwegian men are bald – but nevertheless was told about this by an Eastern European lady who was giving me a haircut in Oslo. In my 18 months in this beautiful country, I have had haircut only thrice – twice in Oslo and once in Stavanger. In between these, I had an opportunity to travel and hence the hairdressers in India and in UK shared the responsibility of trimming my tresses! It was more by accident than by design!

I was recommended this place for a haircut by my friend, who has been in Oslo for long.  On a Saturday morning, just a day before my wife joined me in Oslo I went to Gronland, the official residence for a lot of the Asian and African migrant population.  Gronland is very crowded on Saturdays and week days in the evening. This is because, all the different vegetables, groceries, food items , clothes are easily available here. Walking through the narrow allies can be scary and spooky at times, but will make you feel you are walking through three different continents at the same time – Africa, Europe and Asia. Gronland is also the place where we get all the Asian Groceries in Pakistani shops and have good Indian, Sri Lankan restaurants.

I waited for sometime for my turn at the hair saloon and was ushered in by a guy from Iraq. He could speak fluent Norwegian and some broken English. He had other customers in various other chairs so he pointed me to a lady in the corner who would cut my hair. Maybe she was the one who could speak the most fluent English. The lady hairdresser was nice. While she cut my hair, over conversations I got to know that she was from Eastern Europe and had worked earlier in Sweden. In Norway, she was working and saving money to fund a hair dressing professional course in UK. She already had an Apple iPhone and a Mac book laptop! Voila! This place is so different. Norway is one of the most die-hard fans of Apple’s products. Even hairdressers and the commonest of commons had an iPhone / Mac Book. Hope i live to see this day in India in the next 40 years.I decided not to talk about my Dell laptop of the past 8 years after i heard of her Mac Book! She was aware of the Indian diaspora doing well in the field of computers and then amongst other conversations, my hair was finally down to about half to three fourths of an inch from the scalp. A little close to being a Norwegian?

The remaining two haircuts were spread between Oslo and Stavanger. The guys who cut the hair were from Iraq / Iran and were total professionals. They took not more than 20 minutes to shape my long tresses the way they thought I had instructed them to shape. It was silence and some background English music all along. 

Over conversations with my colleague Kim today, i got to know that the reason why women are hairdressers for both men and women in these countries is only because hairdressing was considered pre-dominantly a feminine profession or pastime. If men are into this business, it means they are gay. Anyways, I believe for folks from Middle East and Asia this principle may not apply as our folks look at it as a profession and they necessarily may not be gay!

Psst psst..hairdressers make tones of money in Norway. I have seen so many saloons in Stavanger that I have lost count. A typical saloon is called “Frisor” in here and I hear its tough job to open one as one has to go through rigorous training, approvals etc. to be qualified to have a haircutting shop. But once they are established, there is no stopping the money from coming in as the hair tresses fall along!

The Frisor below my house is charging NOK 400 (USD 72) for a haircut for men. Can anyone please adopt me and gift me a haircut in there? Kidding... I will wait till i head back to India or go to UK to get it done at 1/6th to 1/7th of the cost!


Vishius said...

I did not know anybody could write at length about haircuts ... enjoying reading these. good one.

Unknown said...

Deepak, There are trainee cuts too which students like me used to take! Its free !!!