Behind the Smile, the story of Lek, a bargirl in Pattaya

The Story of Lek, a Bar Girl in Pattaya
'Daddy's Hobby'

Our Village Barber

I will admit that when I live in the village, I go tonto. In a good week, I shave once or twice, but in a bad month it might only be only once or twice as well. When this happens I have to go to the barber's.

Our Village Barber

Our Village barber

I can get away with this because my wife likes to see up to three days growth on my face, but after a week she starts complaining. Therefore, I try to shave every Sunday otherwise the razor just glances off my beard.

Going to our village barber shop is not onerous. He lives just across the lane from me and if I go before five o'clock there will be no-one there: the boys will be in school and the men in work.

When going for a haircut and a shave, my ritual is to shower, put on a collarless shirt and go straight over still damp.

The barber's name is Deo, which is pronounced the same as the people in the Welsh valleys pronounce the Welsh word for God - like Djeo with an 'e' as in 'her'. Deo is always happy to see me, but I suspect that he is just as happy to see anyone else.

He is probably just a happy person because I have never seen him not smiling.

Deo cuts hair in a corner of his living room, which is a stand-alone building to the side of the sleeping quarters. It has two full walls to the sides, but the front and rear walls have a large gap in them, so that the motorbikes can be wheeled through to the safety of the backyard. There are no doors though.

It's like a short tunnel.

It is quite normal for the family to be eating or watching TV while Deo is cutting hair. The area assigned as a barber's has mirrors all over two walls and a dressing table in front of the chair. The table holds all Deo's tools of the trade and also has a large mirror attached to it.

The chair is a very comfortable authentic barber's chair located in the middle of all these mirrors. It would not look out of place in a museum, if it were re-upholstered. However, it has not been secured to to the floor, so it wobbles precariously, especially when he throws it back to carry out a shave.

He laughs out loud every time he does it because I put on an anxious face. Well, not put on exactly, the anxiety is real enough. I am concerned that my 120 kg will topple it over!

The haircut is very good - thorough, fairly quick and costs 65 cents. He is the only barber I've ever been to in the world, after whom everyone says that it is a good cut. No matter where else I have been, someone doesn't like it, but never with Deo.

A shave takes a lot longer - maybe forty minutes. It starts with the electric clippers. When done, he ceremoniously inserts a new Wilkinsonsword blade into his ancient safety razor and inspects it thoroughly.

Next he sprays distilled water onto a wisp of cotton wool and strokes that over a large bar of medicated soap. This is used to wet small areas of skin prior to scraping them with the razor.

Every bit of bare skin above the shoulders gets this treatment: neck, nose, forehead, sears as well as the more usual parts. He always makes as if to shave my hairy chest too. It's another of his regular jokes, which always makes his wife and kids roar with laughter.

For the final treatment, Deo takes another wisp of cotton wool and puts it in a tin of medicated talcum powder. This he closes and shakes as if making a cocktail. He then retrieves the cotton wool and paints every square inch of bare skin white.

Finally, he shaves the talc off. This is his way of ensuring that he hasn't missed anything. A shave at our village barber shop costs 75 cents.

by Owen Jones



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BTS 1: Daddy's Hobby

BTS2: An Exciting Future

BTS3: Maya - Illusion
BTS4: The Lady in the Tree

BTS5: Stepping Stones

BTS6 - The Dream