Well, I finally managed to get out to get my first haircut here. We had passed a lot of places called Berber which were inviting and intimate little places amongst other shops, but I’m fussy about barbers and couldn’t make up my mind. Now, I’m not fussy in the way that I’m expecting some exact sort of haircut or some fantastic sort of style. No, I just get used to a certain place and that’s where I go. I needs to be no-nonsense and a place where the barber knows enough of his craft that I don’t really need to tell him what I want.
Most Albanian men keep their hair quite short so I imagine berbers do quite a business here. Mine had grown out a bit so that it was getting bushy and annoying. We passed a place hear our apartment that seemed somehow suitable so I tagged that as my eventual barber shop. When I walked in, a young African American guy was getting his hair cut very short and the young barber doing it was talking with an Albanian guy sitting on the bench where I’d parked myself. The African American looked somehow familiar and he looked my way a couple of times. I thought perhaps that I would say hello after we were both done.
The barber working on my hair worked mostly with scissors and made quite a few passes before he got my hair how he wanted it. Sometimes his scissors seemed to be flying above my hair and other times he took more deliberate cuts. He was willing to teach me the word for short (which sounds like shkort) and long, which I can’t remember, so I guess I’ll have to keep my hair long.
Before long, the young American who’d been getting his hair cut and the guy who had been sitting on the bench next to me got up and left, with the young guy cheerfully saying “mirupafshtim” (a sort of thankful goodbye). My barber then said “Marine–at embassy” and we watched the big government SUV pull away and I recognized the Marine from his post at the embassy a week or so ago. He certainly looks less intimidating in his street clothes than in his semi-dress uniform at the embassy.
My tab for the haircut was 300 Leke. I had worked on asking how much “se sa eshte” but didn’t have a chance to use it. That’s about three dollars. Instead of guessing how much to tip, I just asked the barber if it was customary to tip. “No, no,” he waved his hand. I said mirupafshtim and walked into the sunny day.