08 September 2005

Baby's First Haircut

On our first arrival here, Team Tiawan receieved clear instruction that the immediate future has steep learning curve in store for us. We were reminded that just as Christ came as an infant into his culture, we must be willing to learn with a similar attitude. This includes not understanding almost all dialogue, gathering a lot of clues, and trying not to stand in the wrong place.

Last night I went with a new national friend, Annie, to get my hair cut. She brought me to a place just down the street from her house. Now, you've got to understand a little something about homes here in Taiwan. It appears that the average city dwelling can be easily converted into a place of business. The front room is just the right size you'd need to market your wares and services. The beauty salon was no different.

Still, though, not what you'd expect from an American beauty parlor. There were two chairs stlled comfortably in front of two full length mirrors. A woman soaking her feet occupied one chair. Annie, upon whom I'd be entirely dependent for the next hour or so, guided me toward the other chair. While Annie and the stylist had a hands-on conversation about my hair, I took in what I could through the reflection in the mirror. Just behind me sat and entirely indifferent elderly woman watching a soap opera on television. The woman soaking her feet interjected familiarly. A little girl peeked in at me from behind the curtain separating the room from the rest of the dwelling. And by peeked I mean, well, gaped. Not open-mouthed, but close enough.

By this time the woman was pouring goopy soap on my dry hair and massaging it into a lather. She did this for about twenty minutes. Recommended if you ever come to Taiwan. Meanwhile, the cast of characters gained some permanence in the scene. I discovered that the entirely indifferent elderly woman was in the care of her daughter-in-law, the stylist, who was also babysitting the little girl. The woman soaking her feet was a regular.

What unfolded in the beauty shop eclipses what I can pin down in words. It was a humble episode of ordinary life. I suddenly gained a more acute appreciation for the unremarkable atmosphere of Jesus' birth.

The haircut turned out great. That lady really knows what she's doing.

And Speaking of Babies...
Just when you thought they couldn't get any cuter, here are some little ones who understand more about this place than I do.

Can you resist them? No, you cannot. I thought I could, but there are so many of them that they could carry you away. They are to me as ants are to a picnic watermelon. Any fans of Disney's animated television series Recess will remember the apt portrayal of Kindergartners as tribal savages. The sheer number of Kindys at this school makes them a formidable foe. There's got to be at least 200 of them, I'm not kidding you, and they occupy an entire building. When you walk in and hear their voices, you can only pray that they're not restless or hungry or have to got to the bathroom. The trick, I've decided, is to find a way to convince them that you're just as crazy as they are.