...is a barber. It shouldn't come as a surprise, if you, like me, are used to frequenting the same barber for your haircut. I have had haircut from no more than 5 barbers in the last 10 years! Even on average that comes out to be one barber every couple of years. But law of average doesn't apply when it comes to my barbers. There is only one barber I go to here in England, and there was only one that I went to when I was living in Canada. So, I basically have two barbers in my time outside Nepal. The remaining three are those I visit(ed) whenever I have been to Nepal in between.
I went to get an appointment for a haircut the other day. As soon as the barber sees me, he asks if I knew of two other Nepalis who are currently at the university. Even before I could answer he tells me they are here for a short course on post-war reconstruction and development and that both are Gurkhas (he means army officers!). I have met those two gentlemen once, and I know that they are both colonels in Nepal Army. I got an appointment for Monday morning (he is a very busy barber - the only one we have at the university!). I am sure I'll be able to find out a lot more about those two Nepali colonels from the barber on Monday...a lot more than I probably need to know!
But that's not it really. Although I go to the barber's only once every few months, one visit is generally enough to catch up on the news/gossips that I didn't know since my last visit. For example, I found out about the divorce of one of my professors from the barber...who would have thought!?!
Even stranger are the things I hear from him about my own department and the going-ons in there that I wouldn't have otherwise known! He knows about all the new recruitment as well as about those leaving the department, and funnily, he knows about the ongoing research of the profs. as well as students in my department. Well, basically he knows what goes on at the university, and that's quite something!
When I was living in Vancouver, I went to this barber's shop run by a nice lady of Irani origin, and all my three years there, she did my hair. When I first arrived there and had to go for the haircut, I saw her place with the name "Mr & Mrs Barber". I went in thinking I might get a haircut from Mr Barber, and that Mrs Barber is probably the women's hair dresser! How wrong I was - there was no Mr Barber...and the saloon was run entirely by Mrs Barber! Well, I never saw Mr Barber during my three years in the area, so I assume Mrs Barber was in charge of everything.
Anyway, although not as all-knowing as my English barber, she knew most stuffs about the people in the neighbourhood, especially the students at my university. Most of the students living in the area went to her saloon for their haircut, for she had a concession rate for the students. So, obviously she knew a lot about the courses offered at the university and what kind of students do what kind of course, and that sort of thing.
Personally, I like to hear from the barbers than to talk myself. So usually I answer what I am asked to and let them do the talking, making few comments here and there just to let them know that I am listening! But it always strikes me how much people "trust" their barbers so as to tell things that are often very personal! Or they just make their barbers the "means" to spread the things they would like to see spread!! I never understood...