There’s No Place Like Home, Except Maybe the Hair Salon

People do pretty much the same things in Kyrgyzstan as they do in America – go to work or school most of the day, spend time with their families and have dinner in the evenings, visit friends or go shopping on the weekends.  And in most of the ways that really matter these things are all just like they are at home, but superficially they have their Kyrgyz bent: work is more likely to take place in a field than an office, dinner is more likely to be besh barmock than pizza, and shopping will be at the bazaar rather than the mall.

I’m pretty comfortable here in Kyrgyzstan and Talas now and I feel like the relatively minor cultural differences don’t wear me out too much.  On those rare occasions, though, that I need a reprieve it’s nice to have a place to go that feels like home (other than my rock by the reservoir that is).  And oddly enough, that place happens to be a beauty salon (Or “chach tarach” in Kyrgyz – one of my favorite things to say).

It’s not like I spent a lot of time in salons back in the States, but somehow this particular place in Kirovka feels like every hair salon or barber shop I ever went into.  And I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s the trendy women with dyed, bumped, and highlighted hair.  Or the TV playing music videos in the corner.  Maybe it’s the sanitizer and hair spray smell.  Then again it might be the styling implements scattered all over the place.  Some combination of all of them maybe?

I go to get my hair cut about once a month and I make a day of it: go to the salon, get squeaky clean at the banya, browse around the bazaar, and get some lagman at my favorite café.  Most of the reason I keep going to the same hair salon is because of that familiar feeling I get there, but also because I don’t really have the vocabulary to describe the cut I want and they know me now – no language skills required.

No more of that pointing to the top of my head, describing a length with my thumb and fore finger, and making buzzing sounds while motioning around my ears.


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About Cole Bedford