I read Halik’s post and remembered one of my own.
When I was still in school in 2004, when having a phone was the ‘in thing’ and the likes of twitter or facebook were unheard of, I toured the UK for two weeks. I met other students from other countries and it was a good convention of like-minded students and teaching staff where we learnt of and saw a lot of things.
The tour itself was great, it was my first visit to the UK and I had a lot of highlights. Even if not one of the most academically important, I think this particular incident really did teach me a lot of things.
I think it was in Aberdeen or Glasgow in Scotland where this took place. Now this was a 14 day all expenses paid tour, I took one (yes just one) razor as part of my toiletries. I really didn’t need that many, because facial hair growth was minimal and things on the face were only starting to happen, well pimples apart that is.
I can’t really remember the details, but we were to have a dinner or tea-meeting with the city’s mayor or someone of some significance and we were to be dressed smart, bow tie and all. And I realised that it may be better to just shave off the facial hair just beginning to sprout and look more in one extreme, I should either have a proper well groomed beard or none at all, as it was- my facial hair growth then was about one hundredth of the way towards a proper beard.
With all the stuff I had, little stuff like cables, chargers and those of the same ilk I had lost my razor in the suitcase.
So I walked into the shop nearby, male ego and all – going to buy a razor you see. Went through the aisles looked around, walked around pompously as if I had a whole bank to spend and then I went to the counter, where ironically razors were behind the sales girl.
I waited in the queue and then it was my turn to make my order, and by now there was quite a queue behind me, from the normal queen like old woman with a regal outlook to the suave executive. With my school boy confidence oozing I said pointing at the most expensive pack of disposable razors, ‘can I have one of those please’, I heard a deafening hush behind me – the reason for which I didn’t know then. The salesgirl who may have been about five years my senior looked at me, smiled and with a slight sarcastic politeness said as if to deflate my confident air, ‘we don’t sell singles sir, you have to buy the whole pack’.
This was new to me, I was used to going to the shop near the junction, five minutes from the road I live in Colombo and just said ‘uncle Gillette ekak denna’, when I was out of pocket money I just say ‘uncle bic ekak denna’. Being the eldest in the family, and the first to go through life’s changes, asking money from my parents to buy a razor was more embarrassing than it was painful for Oliver when he asked for more.
When the salesgirl told me this, I was in a new kind of predicament – now what! The pack of razors I had shown her was about £ 8.50 and as a school boy in 2004 the cash rate converter rang alarm bells in my head just then. I was going to do a transaction of about Rs. 1750 for a pack of ten razors which I will take at least 8 months to exhaust, at the rate my beard was growing.
I quickly looked around, and with renewed confidence spotted the cheapest pack of razors – given the amount of facial hair I had, anything would do I thought. The cheapest was a pink coloured pack (I must’ve thought it was salmon), I pointed at that and said, ‘oh, in that case I’ll have that pack’. Connecting with the smiling queue behind me, she said ‘pink razors aren’t for you sir’ as if I hadn’t got it already she reinforced that by saying ‘they are for ladies’.
I was stumped, as a losing warrior on a quest for redemption I bought that £ 8.50 packet of razors and walked back to the hotel I was in, knowing inside that I was a man beaten, boy rather. I had bought razors for Rs 1750! It kept haunting me every time I saw that pack; I could have had seventeen meals at MC food court with that amount! Hell I could have taken the whole of my AL class to MC food court and been the hero! Yeah, MC food court was sadly the decent hang out place then.
In my defence, those were different times – whilst we (or I) knew things in theory, the fact that a product such as a razor also has a market amongst the ladies had not really sunk it. Or maybe I was just the slow weirdo who didn’t catch up with the times.
Then in Sri Lanka, I can’t recall ever seeing a tv advert showing razors for women, razors were always a men’s thing and was always attributed to a smooth cut a man can have. Plus, those were times when twitter, facebook, online activism, youtube were unheard of if they were already there and even a high speed adsl internet connection was only owned by a very limited amount of businesses. Adsl was just beginning to be marketed and only a handful of people had it then, I certainly had only my dial up connection. Free flow of information was not as rampant and effective as it is now.
Lesson learnt I guess.
Have a great week!