Photo: Isaac Smith
I remember the first time my ex-girlfriend took me to a proper hair salon. It wasn’t something I was ready to do when I was nineteen and broke, but she said she’d pay, so I went.
It was the first time I didn’t get a haircut alongside Old Master Q comics and Japanese hairstyle magazines. They even served tea and actually washed my hair, something I wasn’t used to, having grown up with Indian barbers or those dingy places where the aunts in flip-flops looked more like they belonged on the set of Kung Fu Hustle than at the salon.
Photo: Nik Shuliahin
“You’re fine,” she said.
“Yeah. You did some work this week right? So I’d say you’re not clinical.” She put her clipboard away, the one that she’d scribbled intently on as I spoke. I wondered if she missed out the part when I said I only wrote two sentences this week.
What about Anthony Bourdain? I thought. He worked his ass off. So did Hemingway. Since when did work have to do with feelings? Then I felt guilty for even having the thought to compare myself to the greats.
Photo: Matese Fields
A stranger changed my life. Someone whose identity I’ve forgotten. I don’t remember the byline, neither do I remember his face in the pictures, but he’d single-handedly set me on a path I didn’t know I would take.
I was a hairdresser, going through the motions every day just to pay the bills. On a particularly quiet day, while I was flipping through all the FHM magazines, I came across this story about an unfit writer’s journey to fighting an amateur boxing match.
I remember harbouring a dream of writing for a magazine. In fact, I remember the exact article that prompted me to sign up for a Writer’s Bureau course. It was an FHM Magazine article, and it introduced me to the world of creative non-fiction, much like the stuff I publish on my blog.
It was then that I’d realise how words could be manipulated to evoke emotion. I starkly remember the sentence ‘One hour later and the airport lights were a thing of the past.’ The turn of phrase blew my mind, and since that day, I begun to aspire to the ways of wordsmithery.
“Having a to-do list is like having a gyroscope to life. There’s a certain magic to committing your goals to paper.”
I’ve liberally paraphrased that saying, but it’s been a while since I was knee-deep in Zig Ziglar, so don’t quote me on that. Some ten years back, I was young and naive, working in a video-game shop, devouring self-help books by the dozens.
Behind our smiles lay the seeds of doubt.
He took a failing airline company and turned it for profit. Then he was thrust upon an international disaster, to which he showed the world what leadership meant. He’s also my new boss, and today, I’m about to give him a haircut.
My tools clatter in my trembling hands. Wait, did I say tools? I meant a shabby kit made out of office scissors, a wooden comb, a women’s disposable shaver, and a bottle of mineral water. Tony Fernandes looks at me, a stretch of bubble wrap hanging off his neck at an angle.
This is going to get messy, I say to myself.