I spent most of this evening in the markets. I stopped at a barber shop to get a haircut because my hair was starting to get long. It cost 20 RMB (which is equal to around $2.50). The barber washed my hair, cut it, then washed it again to wash off all of the excess hair that would normally leave one itchy until one got a chance to shower off. I thought that washing the hair twice was a great idea – they don’t wash our hair twice in the US. I was thinking of postponing my haircut another sixty days to total one hundred and twenty days of not getting a haircut. However, if I didn't get one now and if I waited until I got back to the US, my hair would have been so long that I wouldn't have wanted to get a haircut at all because I've been wanting to grow my hair shoulder-length like I used to have it before I started my marketing job in 1999.
The image that comes to mind when I think of how long my hair used to be is that of either the Crow or of Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic back when he was a role model for romantic manliness. If I grew it now with the beard, I'd probably look more like a Lord of the Rings character than a normal human being. Now, with a short and neat haircut, I just look like a regular Lubavicher chossid. I still draw attention to myself when I walk the streets. I think I am the only one in this city with a beard.
The markets were surprisingly filled with blocks and blocks of the same stuff. Some low-quality underwear, some cheap socks, watermelons, peaches, barbers, used book stores, and blocks and blocks of Chinese food stands. There was a point where I lost my direction because everything looked the same no matter which way I turned.
Later, I joined two students from our program. We made our way deeper and deeper ino the labyrinth hoping to find something of quality. Eventually, we made it into the back alleyways where there were half-dressed men playing cards. I could tell that we were getting away from the mainstream products, but even the products sold in the back markets were junk.
This was my experience of the marketplace in Xi'an. It was still an amusing experience. Nevertheless, it still made me glad to be an American.