I’m always amazed when I see Indians pair up to do tasks that, for me, are a one-woman or one-man job. The first time I recall being a bit shocked was at my old hair salon in UB City. I was sat in the back of the salon enjoying a pedicure when I saw a woman walk in into the salon with her 2 girlfriends who walked to the chair with her. The woman with the appointment sat down and the two girlfriends stood just alongside her and proceeded to monitor what the stylist did, comment when they felt it was appropriate and generally participated in the one-on-one experience that is typically a hair appointment. The first time I brushed it off as a one-off thing but then when I saw it again and again at the salon I realized that this isn’t a one-off thing at all…it’s an Indian thing. I’ve actually felt bad for the stylist a couple of times because I’ve seen him there with three women telling him how to do his job but he just smiled and rolled with the punches, bless him!
And it’s not just women who do it. I’ve seen cool looking Indian guys around 20 years old do the exact same thing at the salon. Well, okay, the guys didn’t micromanage the stylist but they sat in the chair next to the guy with the appointment the whole time. I have honestly never seen anything quite like this before. Back in Spain I went to the salon with my best girlfriend dozens of times. The first time was after we first met … we went to Tony & Guy in Barcelona with two champagne flutes and chilled Moët to see us happily through our 2+ hours at the salon in style. We had fun! But we both went for appointments. It wasn’t me with my BFF who was monitoring my cut and highlights.
Well, today I saw the most unlikely two-some friend situation yet. In a million years I couldn’t have imagined it, I swear. I was waiting for an appointment today, sat in the lobby of a busy office building, people watching and playing on my BlackBerry. One of the H.R. team walked out with a candidate, they shook hands and parted ways. The H.R. guy went back inside and the candidate came up to the seating area, high-fived a guy who had been seated near me, and said something which I assume was like “went great, man” in a language I don’t speak. The buddy stood up and they walked out. OMG! Haha! That was the weirdest thing I have seen in a lobby in a good long time. I assume the buddy was there for encouragement or as some kind of good luck charm but honestly…interviews definitely seem like a “big girl” or “big boy” activity best done alone. Reminded me of the Tom Hanks film BIG when his best friend goes with him on the interview at the toy company. But these guys weren’t 11 years old, they were in their mid to late 20s.
Here in India there is such a stronger feeling of family and unity than I have experienced anywhere else. I’m still amazed by the large families who live together in massive homes or complexes…an ex colleague told me their family home was 22,000 sf and over 30 people live there. And it still surpirses me when grown men and women in their 30s, with power jobs but who are unmarried, are still living at home. This is somewhat common back in Spain too but it’s completely foreign to Americans who move out of the family home right after high school. As an outsider it’s hard for me to imagine this life but at the same time I can picture how much fun it must be to live with a big family even now as an adult. There would always be someone around with whom to talk to and share the fun adventures of the day and or a meal. Although it must also be frustrating to never have a minute alone when you want a bit of down time or “me” time. What I would hate the most was always having to be properly dressed when you run around the house or flat because I can’t imagine that girls can run around in a bra and underwear while getting ready for work in the morning. That would certainly bug me because I don’t like to dress until the last minute when my hair and face are done.
In my mind I imagine that this tight family bond attributes to this desire to have someone close at hair appointments or along for the ride at a job interview, although this is just a guess. Any insight on this would be most welcome, so please do comment!
I’m sure I will never take someone to critique my hair stylist at my next haircut…that’s my fun job and I love driving my hairdresser crazy. And I definitely won’t take a human talisman to my next interview. But I think there is something lovely about the sentiment and feeling of unity behind the actions. Especially the way that families stay together and don’t all move off in different directions around the country or the globe, thus allowing them to remain a part of each other’s’ lives forever.
© Angela Carson, 2011