We travel light enough to avoid checking baggage when we fly (no matter where we go, or for how long, we each bring one carry-on bag, which on most European airlines is a bit smaller than the size of American carry-on luggage). It makes travelling easy, but unfortunately it means we can’t bring some things with us, such as razors. Usually I pick up a cheap one within the first day or two of a trip so I can keep reasonably well-groomed but I didn’t get around to it quickly here in Turkey. I needed a haircut anyway, so a trip to a Turkish barber seemed in order.

The Haircut: This was unlike any haircut I’ve had for quite some time. Probably for the first time since my childhood I had a haircut without the barber resorting to the electric shears at some point.

The Shampoo: I realize it’s common for women to be shampooed when having their hair done, but I don’t think I’ve ever had my hair washed at the barbers. This barber washed my hair twice. Really, I didn’t think it was that dirty.

The Shave: The barber lathered up the brush, then spent more time lathering my chin than I take for the whole process of shaving at home. Out came the straight edge razor, and he began to shave me. He pinched my cheeks, or my lips, to make the skin more taut, and shaved away. Having someone hold a straightedge razor to my throat was not as uncomfortable as I expected.

The Burning of the Ear Hair: I long ago reached that age where men grow hair in new places, including in their ears (it’s a kind of second puberty), so the barber took out what looked like a gigantic oversized metal Q-tip dipped in butane and lit it on fire. He proceeded to bat the thing at my ears, singeing away any stray ear hairs.

The Trimming of the Nose Hair: Using a small pair of scissors, the barber trimmed my nose hair. Again, a first.

The Massage: At the end of all this, he gave me a shoulder and back rub. It seemed natural here in Turkey, but I think it would be a bit odd if my barber in Corvallis began giving me a massage.

The Cost: Twelve Turkish lira, or about €5.

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