CHINA JOURNALPALM SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2002
Since this is Palm Sunday, I had my own little Palm Sunday celebration. I got to sing ³The Palms² to myself, that anthem from my childhood that I love and most people hoot at. Iım always glad when Gail and Polly play it as a piano-organ duet for the prelude. I thought about the palm crosses which The Sunshine class (meaning the Moore family and I) makes to hand out each Palm Sunday. The youth group is helping make them with the Moores this year. Itıs a nice tradition, and I hope they enjoy it. I figured that was probably it for my Palm Sunday, but in the taxi a bit later we passed what looked like a fast food shop with two artificial palms outside. I had to chuckle at the funny ways God can provide!
Today was the day to get ³hair wash and massage². I dutifully trot along to enjoy the surprisesand what a surprise this was. Zhang Fu Ling, Zhang Jie and I took a taxi across town, about a forty-minute ride to a barber shop. They obviously go here regularly. The staff is happy to show off their photos of themselves taken with famous people and stars who have had them do their hair. There are two small rooms. Along one wall are four big mirrors with four counters holding supplies and drawersno sinks. There were actually five chairs for customers to be worked on there with another working chair in the entry room. At the end of that wall was a black permanently reclined chair which led into a black basin. Several small hoses were resting in the basin coming from two tanks on the wall in which water was heated. I could get paranoid thinking about a hose or tank of hot water springing a leak over my upturned face. On the wall opposite were places for people waiting to sit. The entry room contained a washer and dryer to keep them supplied with clean towels (again the small size). All the workers were men except one. When we entered, the working chairs were filled with men getting haircuts. Everybody worked on both men and women. Two of the workers seemed to be the specialists who did the styling and cutting the womenıs hair. It struck me that the floor was littered with coal black hair, with a few of the auburn tints thrown innot a lock of brown or blonde in the lot.
After seating me in a working chair, the young fellow who was to do me first wrapped a little towel around my back and shoulders. Then he put a few squirts of a turquoise lotion right on the top of my head. With his left hand holding a small squirt bottle of probably water (and later something else) and his right hand working the shampoo, he keeps dribbling a little bit of water on at a time. I was expecting him to quickly work the shampoo around my whole head, but, nohe keeps working in this little circlet on top of my head for a long time. I was fascinated. Meanwhile no water is dribbling down my neck. Eventually he begins to work it around more. Even then he isnıt just spreading the shampoo into your head, he is massaging the head with the knuckles and the fingertips and a few flat palm hits thrown in. When he gets an accumulation of too much shampoo he scoops it into his hands, walks over to the single sink and washes it down the drain. Then back. What developed next was wonderful. First there was much massaging of the scalp in a wide variety of hand maneuvers. He kept shifting around as if it were a combination of lots of types. However, this is the first massage Iıve ever had so this may be old hat. Eventually you no longer see any soap on the hair and he has worked his way on to your neck and shoulders. The head massage seemed to occur for all the hair wash customers. The rest was an extra special from Fu Ling. He massaged my back, shoulders, neck, head, and up and down my arms for 30 to 40 minutes. He had great endurance and Iım sure the variety of motions helps him from cramping up. Most of this was done with me sitting up in the chair. After he had done that for a while he had me lean over so he could include my lower back too. I loved it! Next he takes me over to the sink for my rinse, then back to the chair to blow dry and comb it out. I reached for my little twisty to put my hair back up and he motioned no and pointed to the stylist down the way. Oh, my. So the stylist looked over the thin hair and decided what approach. I would happily have stopped before he laid his hands on my hair, but Iım along for the ride and Fu Ling was really excited about this. (You need to know that Fu Ling is in the minority of Chinese women who have their hair done up in the western, heavy lacquer spray bouffant style.) I knew what I was in for. My hair is quite a challenge, and he did an amazing job of producing something fancy with poor working material. I ended up with a roll in back, which is nice, a swirl up on both sides, and something I canıt describe on topall held down by a ton of spray so it feels like a plastic helmet. Gross. The best description of the style is that it looks like a grey haired version of Cruella in 101 Dalmatians! I feel like a clown. I did have Zhang Jie take a picture from all sides so we can all laugh over it. Zhang Jie informed me that in three or four days I can wash it out. Three or four days?! I donıt want to appear in public. Iıll scare the kids. Iım plotting how I can appear at the office tomorrow via car for Fu Ling to show off, teach a class, sneak home, and wash it out. I can always say I canıt put my bike helmet onor maybe I can sleep real hard tonight, though from the feel of it, that wonıt do it. I like the feeling of the wind going through my hair even if it is hanging out in all directions.
From there we walked to Bin Jiang Doa, the walking street with upscale stores and sidewalk stalls both. Interesting sights included two cages of very small white bunniesa takeover from Easter? There were the first beggars I have seen. In both cases they were crippled in their lower bodies. Someone had brought them there and placed them into the walking street area. We ate at an upstairs restaurant having already eaten a red bean ice cream bar. The street probably goes six or eight blocks. It is quite wide with decorated arches and fancy street lights going the whole direction. Imagine my surprise when I looked the length of the street and beyond the very end were three domes with a cross on each one. This in a city where I havenıt been able to find out anything about a Christian church. My Palm Sunday surprise! We went down a side street to catch a taxi and, within a block, passed a large white building with a cross on top. These are both in the down town area where I had not been. I asked Zhang Jie to ask the taxi driver about them. After a conversation, she said, ³Next Sunday we will go to church.² Little does she know that it will be Easter Sunday! How special.