Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Hair vs. Ketchup
When in Delhi, visit a place called INA Market to get a sense of where things are going and haven't gone yet. Here I can get most of the popular American brands of things I may or may not want, including life size dancing Santa robots and super fake looking Christmas trees. Enter further in, past the shops along the main road and you're in a labyrinth of lanes filled with shops with cloth, shoes, plastic wares, drugstore items, live butchers, flowers, fruit, blankets, cows, you name it they will have it here somewhere. As a reminder of how disproportional the cost ratio is in India of human capital to manufactured goods, I find a place in this maze to get a haircut so I can look a bit more presentable for the family soirees coming over the next few days, while Mitra haggles over an ironing board. A boy who's maybe 16 gives me a haircut entirely with scissors, which takes about 4 times longer and a lot more effort than the guys back home who generally whip out some clippers, shear me, and clean up the stragglers with their scissors. This is followed by a head massage involving the kid interlocking his fingers to make a big fist and wacking me all over my head and the back of my neck creating a loud popping sound of all his knuckles breaking at once which pleasantly echoes in my skull. I pay the 15 rupee fee (approx. 35 cents) and join back with crew where Naya is trying to pry open a soy milk drink box (thinking it's juice no doubt) and we debate about buying a bottle of Heinz ketchup or the Indian brand, Maggi. Oddly, Maggi is a few rupees more, coming in at 53. *Note for people still in DC: the cheapest haircut I could get in DC was in my neighborhood in Brookland at the beauty institute near the metro station. It was 5 dollars (223 rupees) includes no skull massage, but does come with a whole room of barbers in training gathered around you after the instructor calls them over to see an example of cutting caucasian hair.