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  • September 2009
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Haircut at Fawzi’s Saloon, a Ramadan Tradition

A year ago tomorrow (is that a phrase?), I wrote about my desperate need to find a local saloon.  Not for a beer, which would be haraam (forbidden) normally, but especially during Ramadan, but rather for a haircut.  As I explained a year ago you’ll find saloons all over Amman – a strange sight in this teetotaling nation, until you realize that the Arabic language has no “o” sound so must opt for either “salun” or “saloon” for the fancy french term that we sometimes use to designate a place of haircutting.   I think you would agree that saloon sounds much better than salun.

Anyways, last year I went to Fawzi’s Saloon, which is literally a 2 minute walk from my apartment.  I’ve been his customer ever since.

I was glad that I needed a haircut again this Ramadan, and I think I will make a haircut at Fawzi’s a Ramadan tradition even if I ever move out of the neighborhood.  Haircuts at Fawzi’s are always interesting.  His shop is tiny (1 bright orange and silver chair) and there is always something interesting to listen to whether it be conversation or the TV.  One of the first time’s I was at Fawzi’s he was shaving my neck with a straight razor when he leaned towards the door and yelled at the top of his lungs, “Ya, Jihaad!”  (Oh, Jihad!).  His 11 year old son appeared a few minutes later.  His name is Jihaad.  I started breathing again.  Over the year I have gotten used to greeting Jihaad when he is in the shop or, if not, asking, “Kiif Jihaad?” (How’s Jihad?)  Not a question you might usually ask in a barber shop in America.  Especially when someone is shaving your neck.

Tonight didn’t disappoint at Fawzi’s.  First of all it was 9:50 when I walked in the shop. Try finding a barber open at that time of night (and happy to see you) in America.  Actually during Ramadan this is an ideal time to have your haircut.  Shops are often closed in the morning later than usual.  And who wants their barber to be hungry, thirsty, smokeless and grumpy in the middle of the hot afternoon?  After iftaar (the evening time of breaking the fast) is the best time to get some things done during Ramadan – indeed many shops are open much later than usual and everyone is in a good mood late into the night.

I greeted Fawzi and Jihaad and another guy.  I wished them a generous Ramadan and they said that Lord willing, it would be.  Fawzi offered me a coffee, which I gladly accepted.  As he draped me in the usual barber’s cape (what is that thing called?) I reminded him that the first time we met was during last Ramadan.  We exchanged pleasantries about the past year and Fawzi began cutting my hair.  I like it because he now knows exactly what I want and we don’t really have to talk about it.  I also like the fact that we don’t speak english.  Well, sometimes Fawzi says “two” or “four” when referring to his shaving guides, or occasionally he’ll say, “down” when he wants me to tip my head – but that’s about it.

Tonight another guy came in and salaam alaikumed us. He apparently needed a touch up in the back which Fawzi cheerfully provided (after checking with me if it was ok).  The guy tried to pay, but Fawzi, of course, refused.  The guy then proceeded to groom himself in the mirror with one of Fawzi’s combs.  This is a common occurrence.  Or a guy might come in and use an extra pair of clippers hanging around to trim his own beard or mustache.  This doesn’t seem to faze anyone.  Tonight, the guy picked up a spray bottle and asked if it was water to which Fawzi replied that it was gasoline.  This got a lot of laughs.  There was then a spirited discussion about which was harder to go without during the hot summer days of this Ramadan – smoking or water.  People definitely had strong opinions about this and I could see both sides (if you are a smoker that is – but I was on the water side).  I’m not sure if the debate ever got settled and the conversation turned to whether or not the car one guy was going to purchase was a good deal or not.

The session ended as always with Fawzi and I exchanging the traditional greeting for those who have recently had a haircut which basically involves wishing God’s grace upon each other.  I handed over a couple of JD ($3) and we wished peace upon each others hands and hoped that God would allow us to see each other again.

It was 10:15 and I walked the two minutes back to my apartment with a big smile on my face.  There’s nothing really like a trip to Fawzi’s Saloon for a haircut during Ramadan.


3 Responses

  1. “Ya, Jihaad!”


  2. Fantastic post! Thanks. I especially like the part about random people coming in to use the barber’s tools.

  3. That was a really cool story. I don’t have any particular reaction, I’m just glad you wrote it and glad I read it. Thanks! You don’t hear stories like that one every day. Not in Wheaton, that is.

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