I sat unnervingly in the barber’s chair the first time I got a haircut in Bishkek. Not knowing the language I didn’t know if the barber totally understood what it is I wanted. I had heard stories of people going to get a certain cut and walking out with something they didn’t want. Before the cut I told my husband that I would be back quickly because we were expecting some people to stop by our apartment. I thought it wouldn’t take long because my hair was short. Little did I know that a usual barber visit takes at least an hour. When setting up an appointment there is no “let’s see how many people we can fit in an hour.” It’s a “you have the whole hour to get your haircut and we will use every minute of it” appointment. The cut itself didn’t take long but afterwards she measured, and measured, and measured to make sure it was even on both sides. I thought we were almost done but she wasn’t even halfway finished. She then started to thin my hair a bit, then measured again to make sure it was even, taking little snips here and there.
I checked my watch to see how late I was; Not too bad, only maybe 15 minutes. Then the hair dryer came out. I had never blown dry my hair straight before. I had no idea it would take so long. After blow-drying there was more measuring. Okay, we’re finally done, right? Well now it was time for the style, which meant more blow-drying and a hair straightener. Overall the total time she took was an hour to an hour and a half. The thing that impressed me was how much care and attention she took on my hair. I had never had anyone cut so attentively. Every haircut after this one has been the same: Cut, measure, measure again, blow-dry, straighten, style. I have not had one experience that was less than 45 minutes. I’m of the opinion that hair grows back, so even though I may have not loved every single haircut, I do appreciate the care and attentiveness that I’ve received every time. My most recent haircut I felt guilty about getting because it was so expensive compared to other places, 500 som, but I loved it. The cost in dollars? $10.64.