Monday, January 11, 2010

Did you notice my new hairdo? I went to the salon for a haircut on Halloween. One should never go to the salon on Halloween—especially when you do not speak the native language.

And I want you to know that I did not ask for this hairdo. I just wanted a haircut. But this is what happens when you don't speak Kiswahili. In fact, I never would have consented to having it done knowing that it would take 2 women and 7, and I mean 7 hours non-stop! I sat on a rickety ol' front porch of a container shop from 10am until 5pm with two young Tanzanian women, Priska and Julie, hovering over me and braiding my hair with black yarn. There was no mirror and I had no idea what they were doing. I got really nervous wondering what I was going to look like when they were done. Passersby would exclaim, “Umependeza!” (You are attractive!) And I thought they have got to be kidding!

Then around 4:30pm Priska and Julie took me into this teeny, and I mean teeny dark room with a large mirror and using a large candle they proceeded to set fire to all the ends of the braids to cinch them! Does this sound like the makings of a Halloween movie? The hairdressers' friends would stop by and crowd into the teeny room to watch in the candlelight and ooooo and ahhhhhh. It cost me 15,000 Tanzanian shillings. And then I had to go back every two weeks for a wash and "repair.”

When I got home, Earl did not know what to make of it. After a few moments, he decided he liked it! And the first time I walked into the teaching staff room at school ALL the women squealed "Mama Mwafrica!" And the men liked it too. The students, especially the girls, were delighted. Wherever I went I received compliments from colleagues and strangers alike. I must say my new doo did an awful lot for international relations.

Every morning I would look in the mirror and wonder who is that woman? I am not the same. Of course, one is never the same when one tries to live the Gospel. Mama Mwafrica.

Postscript: I had the new doo till Christmas. Then with summer upon us, it was just too hot! So I went to the barber shop and got a real haircut in 10 minutes!

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