Haircuts are a good way to determine the cost of services in a country. We call it the haircut index. We have no qualms about exploiting the kids in the interest of travel research, so Kayan is our haircut guinea pig. Ava won’t let anyone touch her tresses – she’s going through a prolonged hair obsession – I get a cut about once a year, and Sandeep prefers to manage his own locks.
Kayan’s first haircut was at a Greenwich Village baby salon for $40. Ouch. After that, I taught myself to cut hair and gave him monthly trims for the rest of our time in New York. His first international haircut was in Chiang Mai for $2. Several weeks later, he got another one in Penang, also for about $2. He wasn’t too thrilled about that one.
It’s been two months since I buzzed his hair in India and he was due for a new do. Our cousins were visiting Istanbul this week and needed to give their four year old boy a haircut as well, so we decided to take the tikes to one of the neighborhood salons. Istanbul is dotted with berbers, all of which have men getting leisurely shaves in reclining chairs.
The only people more groomed in Istanbul than the Turkish women are the Turkish men. We figured we were in the right place to get the boys cuts and let the berbers work their magic. For 10 Lira (about $5) each kid got an efficient 10 minute cut. Military service is compulsory for all Turkish men, who are required to serve sometime between the ages of 20 and 41. I suspect that the berbers take it upon themselves to do their part in preparing young boys for future service.
At $5, a haircut in Turkey is more than double that of our Asian stops. It’s not surprising, our daily spending on food and shelter is at least twice of what we shelled out in Thailand, Malaysia, India or Myanmar. I suppose price adjustments are also part of the cultural adjustments that come with an around the world journey.