Story which has been written by me in the very beginning of my Georgian life
As I am new to Georgia, I need some basic advice: where to go for shopping, which pre-schools are good, where to enjoy a cup of coffee and, of course, who is the best hairdresser in town.
One of my Georgian friends, who now lives in New York, recommended her Tbilisi hairdresser to me. My friend said Nino is very professional.
So here I am on my way to my first hairdressers in Tbilisi!
I catch a taxi and the taxi driver asks me where to go. Uh oh! I only remember the street and the name of the hairdresser’s. I forgot the street number! So I tell the taxi driver the approximate location of the salon as described by my friend.
“What’s the name of the place?” asks the taxi driver. – “Lamazi *”, I reply. – “Why didn’t you tell me this earlier? Everybody around here knows the place. Many stars and politicians are clients there!”
Wow! I didn’t know that I was going to such a famous place! But as my friend told me, a haircut is relatively cheap there. All other treatments are not. Let’s see.
Finally, we arrive at “Lamazi”. I enter the salon and the first thing I see is the crowd of people waiting at the reception desk. As it is mid-summer and very hot outside, the air conditioner is on at full blast, and the pleasant cool air can be felt throughout the entrance hall.
But there is something wrong in the air here: It is filled with cigarette smoke! I look around and notice that the female clients, who are waiting their turn, spend their time smoking in the entrance hall. Incredible! In Georgia, it is not forbidden to smoke in public places. This seems strange to me, considering the type of establishment I am in and all the beautiful and rich who come here.
A girl at the reception desk asks me to wait a little, not offering me to take a seat. No wonder: there are no free seats available. It is too crowded everywhere. The employees are running around, saying goodbye to the old clients and welcoming the new ones. The phones are ringing without interruption. This is the hustle and bustle of a well-known beauty salon!
My hairdresser Nino arrives. She is a blond woman approximately in her fifties, well-groomed but seemingly tired. When she sees me, she comes to give me a hug and tells me that she could recognize me immediately based on the description my friend gave her. Then she asks me whether I can let her take care of another client who arrived late.
The client is an elderly woman dressed in black (maybe a widow?) who came to the salon accompanied by her daughter. She looks at me –pleadingly. Although I feel sorry for her, I say ‘no’: my baby is waiting at home to be fed, and on my way back home I have to pick up my elder son from pre-school. This statement ends the question “Whose turn is it now.” In Georgia, kids and mothers with small kids always have priority.
Nino takes me to her working place. I look around with curiosity.
In Nino’s “kingdom” disorder reigns, as you would expect from a typical artist. There are diplomas over diplomas hanging on the wall. And under the mirror there is a conglomerate of small and big bottles: sprays and lotions, colored jars, and other hairdresser’s belongings which occupy all the space.
The overall sense of chaos in the salon is completed by the professionals, their helpers, cleaning ladies and receptionists, all running around.
My hairdresser has too many clients eager to be attended to, while some of her colleagues sit around, bored.
I take a seat and Nino asks her helper to wash my hair. Nino goes to the previous client whose hair has been washed already.
Nino’s helper, a young but pale girl, looks much more tired than her boss. There isn’t even a hint of a smile on her face. She washes my hair without saying anything, dries it with a towel, and immediately proceeds to clean around in the room.
I am waiting for my turn sitting in Nino’s chair. But she is still busy with her previous client.
While taking care of another client, Nino tries to switch over to me to discuss my new hair style. We also chat about this and that and also about our common friend living in the Big Apple.
But our nice and sincere conversation doesn’t last long, as the lady in black, who arrived late, is back. She asks how much longer she has to wait and insists that she has no time left. Nino promises she will be quick.
Then, a girl from the reception desk comes and says that one more client has arrived for Nino!
Suddenly, my hairdresser loses her composure. “Are you all crazy?” She cries desperately. “Why did you make so many appointments for me on my holiday? Deal with these appointments yourselves! I came here as an exception only for a few hours. And now lunch time is long over, and I still haven’t had anything to eat!”
This debate lasts quite a while. In the end, Nino persuades the woman in black with the daughter to come back in the evening. Afterwards, Nino continues her tirades about her hard and unfair live. But she isn’t doing it disparately, more like playing in the theatre for her viewers.
I am sitting in my chair waiting. Somehow I feel ready to spend many hours at this place. I am now just observing the situation as if it were an Italian movie, where Sofia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni would step down into reality soon.
Now, Nino and I are talking about the only the thing that matters, which is my haircut. I feel sorry for Nino. I am afraid to even imagine what chaos may be inside her head after all her verbal struggles. I fear she can hardly have any thoughts left for me now.
From time to time, Nino leaves me alone with my hair still wet in order to finish the haircut of her previous client.
In the end, I am really surprised: despite all the obstacles my hair cut is finished – in only one hour!
Of course, I could not relax nor go over one of many ‚silly‘ women’s magazines lying around. But the result of Nino’s work is quite impressive: she has given my hair a new style and a surprising volume! More than that: she has somehow managed to put me into a great mood.
My Georgian friend from New York, who learnt about my first experience with the Georgian beauty salons, was amused saying: “Welcome to Georgia, my dear!”
Tbilisi, August 2010
Translation by Inna Redya