16 May 2006

Barbarian System

I am not an anarchist. Even if I were, let me tell you, I am not going to talk about coersive powers of state. There are many species of animals on this earth and barbers, I tell you, belong to a special one: Homo Barbarians! I do not know if this true but what I am sure is the barbers in Europe are strange.
After scaning many price lists, I choose a barber's shop (13 Eur!). It was in Leuevn, a town in Belgium where I lived. I waited there for about 2 hours for my turn to come. When, finally, my turn came, I remembered banks in Leuven close early and yes, exactly at 4 PM. I said to the barber, I will be back in a while. Barber seemed to agree.

I then ran, with all energy I could muster, to a bank to collect some Canadian dollers that I had ordered. And now, only 15 minutes to four. Well, time is important because I was to fly early next day and the queue was long. When I heard from the clerk that the CADs were ready I rushed to the nearest cash machine to get some EURs. Again queue was long. I requested a girl infront of the queue to execuse me, only to be reminded that there was a queue and I was to stand there like all fellow gentlemen and wait for my turn! I had 13 minutes! Finally when all the people ahead of me took money, as in any other civilised country, as British may put it, I realised that there was a limit on how much I can withdraw. That it was insufficient for my purpose! But I managed getting the papers of Banque Du Canada (Bank of Canada: in French ).

But we were talking about barbers and not about banks and dollers. That is where we go at around 4.20 PM. You have to come to barber shop because you are reading, I am to have my head cut there. But it is not so easy as you may have guessed. The barber's shop was full again. What a good business to be in, I thought. Guy behind me in the queue just I got beheaded! I requested, well my barber will you look in to my hair for a while? He told me in his Iranian acsented Dutch English, "well ya, ye thook en haar". I said, what now, I had some work in the bank, please put the pieces of lenthy hairs where they belong. He was not ready, "we hab a sistem heer", came a haughty reply, "Ye hab to take a appointment" (24 Euro)! My head waited for 2 hours and now you tell me I have to wait for few more hours? Have some consideration, put me next at least. He was not ready for that either. He said again "we hab a sistem heer, Ye hab to take a appointment". That was all. I ran out of all patience. I came out not before shouting those english words people utter when they are frustrated, "This is pathetic and disgusting". The barber promptly said, "Yaa yaa it is".

An old couple were having an afternoon chat. One said "it is from 5 PM that I start chapping heads". When I stood infront of the another coiffure (Barber Shop) at 4.55 another old man was waiting. When we got in , the old barber started his job as he would in any other day. The old client of his spoke all along in dutch about something very important! When I wanted ask the client about something, he turned to me and said, "You see number 14 building? dat waz destroyed not, when Germans bombed". In the second or the first I asked. First ofcourse was the answer. He then said please (Ausublieft which means execuse me in that context).

My head was neatly cut. Barber said he had never been to India but his nephew did. He also told me she (nephew) was in Bombay contesting an international marine competition or something of the sort. She stood 10th. We both agreed that it was not bad concidering that it was an international competion.

May 13th 2006, Leuven, Belgium
~r

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