I can't understand the Arabic spoken by the Moroccan or Turkish barbers (their accents are MUCH different than the Saudis) and they don't speak much English at all.
So getting a haircut at KAUST is always an adventure - because I never know what I will walk away with. One month ago I had a bad experience - the guy took almost an hour to whittle my hair down to nothing. I think I could have done better with an electric razor in five minutes...
This week I got the Turkish guy with a crazy mullet and sharp streaks of styled facial hair across his chin. I wanted desperately to tell him that I wanted a more normal haircut than he was sporting, but the language barrier only allowed me two options: "short" and "long." After trying to convince my barber of the merits of "medium," and him not understanding, we finally settled on "short-long," which he seemed happy with and went to work.
The only successful conversation (I did try!) we were able to share during the whole operation was:
"Where you from?"
He did a great job with the sides and top, but when it came to the back of my head, my mulletted friend left a lot of hair. I said "cut" and he said "no, this beautiful!" I said "cut" again and, a little disappointed, he finished the job.
I have enjoyed the small challenges that living in KSA has brought. Though communicating with the barber took a bit more work, I had fun. It helps to have a sense of humor here.
In spite of the challenge, and with a modification at home, everything turned out just fine...
... and now I have a small story to share!