Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The most traumatic thing about being an ex-pat in Ghana…

… is getting your hair cut! I’ve had 3.5 haircuts here, the latest yesterday, and each one was equally damaging. There is supposedly a barber somewhere in Accra experienced in cutting Obruni hair, but he disappeared around the time I arrived and I haven’t yet met anyone who can handle my golden locks. Nothing is more traumatizing than removing your glasses and blindly surrendering all control over the top of your head to a man with scissors (if you’re lucky – most only have clippers) who just finished petting your hair and saying, “it’s so smooth!”

Here is a synopsis of my haircuts to date, in chronological order. No pictures, sorry – this is one of the moments better left uncaptured (and off the internet).

#1: ‘The Is this 1990 and am I Vanilla Ice?’. For my first hair cut, I decided to try out the barber closest to my house. Mistake! I told him: “Longer on the top and shorter on the sides” and received what would have been a flat top, if my hair were capable of such a thing. Instead, I was left with a Vanilla Ice Flat Top. Oops!

#2: ‘The Wet Ret’. Thoroughly traumatized, I decided to take on my next hair cut myself (while wearing glasses). Mistake! On the plus side, the process of cutting it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had alone, and my interior monologue was priceless. Some of the things that crossed my mind while cutting my own hair: “Wow! I don’t even need a mirror for the back!”; “I wish my scissors weren’t so dull…”; “Wow! I don’t even need my glasses!”; “Next time, I will use a comb”. On the minus side, when I put my glasses back on and found a mirror for the back, the first thought I had was that it looked familiar, but I couldn’t place why… Oh, that’s right, it looked like the hair on the wet rat I’d seen crawling out of the sewer the week before. Oops!

#2.5: ‘The Fade’. After two weeks of walking around with the ‘Wet Rat’, I realized that no one was going to take me seriously until I got it cleaned up. Back to the closest barber it was. This time, I told him, don’t cut the top, just clean the bottom and make a smooth transition to the top. Mistake! He cropped it right up to the skin until about halfway up my head, when it faded aggressively into the 3+ inches of ‘Wet Rat’ left on top. Oops!

#3: ‘The Egghead’. Tried a new barber this time, one who actually owned scissors. He had a picture of someone with `The Fade’ on the wall, and I carefully explained that I wanted exactly that, only all the same length in the back, and using scissors on top. Somehow that translated to: “Please make my head as ovular as possible. I really like looking like an egg.” Mistake! I got what would be a tight, hip afro, if my hair were capable, but instead just makes my head look bizarrely round, almost fascinatingly so. It could be worse, I suppose… but not much worse. The nerdy irony that my head is literally shaped like an egg does stir my pocket-protected soul. Oops!


  1. You could always let it grow out into a pony tail !!!

    - Dad

  2. AMAZING. Good to see you have lost your sense of humour through it all.