One of the things I wasn't quite satisfied about when I was living in the US was having a haircut there. It is said that westerners have flatter hair, which is why the cross-section of the hair is oval-shaped, while people like me from the Orient have more round hair. Cutting my hair the same way they usually do for westerners, barbers in the US invariably failed to make my hair look tidy. It tended to look ruffled.
Later on, I had an opportunity to travel to Beijing on business and had a haircut at the Friendship Hotel. It is a super clean publicly owned barbershop where barbers are highly skilled. My hair looked natural and neat after a trip there. Ever since, I have been going to the same barbershop located in the main building of the hotel every time I travel to Beijing, which has been a couple of times a year for at least the past twenty years. I have been through several generations of barbers.
One day Ms Wang, who was handling my hair, commented as she cut my hair: "Your hair is very grey". I thought to myself I must have grown a lot of grey hair as I have aged. But moments later, I heard Young Li, who was washing my hair, say to himself: "Mr Chair's hair is so dark!" (Mr Chair is their nickname for me.) I wondered to myself how two people could have such contrasting views in an interval of a few minutes. Could my grey hair grow dark in a few minutes? What was more amazing was the comment made by the young lady who helped blow-dry my hair. She said as she was combing my hair, "Your hair is so good and there is plenty of it, too". I was confounded, and didn't know what to think.
I decided to consult Ms Wang later about such contrasting comments about my hair in such a short space of time!
An older barber cut in when he overheard my question. "All three of them were speaking the truth. Your grey hair is distinctly grey and your black hair is very dark. You not only have thick hair, but also have more black than grey hair. It is neither too soft nor too hard. Therefore the quality of your hair is very good."
You have to give it to the people from Beijing. They really know how to talk the talk, with statistical concepts, too!
This article was originally published in Chinese in the United Daily News (15 March, 2015).
23 March, 2015