bald and the beautiful in india

street barber in indiaIt’s virtually impossible to visit Varanasi and not be swept up in the special spirit of the place. But did Intrepid Express reader Roger Allnutt let his hair down a little too much when he joined in a local celebration?…

“It was early morning on the River Ganges and the faithful were gathered on the river bank for the last day of a major Hindu festival. Small boats cruised along the water’s edge, while the passengers scattered flower petals or lighted candles that floated downstream and created a magical effect. On shore large bonfires signalled where bodies were being cremated, a time-honoured ritual.

As I wandered through the crowd I noticed a large number of men had, or were having, their heads and sometimes also their beards shaved off, another part of the ritual of the festival. I had always considered having my head shaved but had never had the courage to do so. Why not now, when I would be only one of many?

Signalling to one of the many barbers squatting on the steps of the ghat, I indicated that I wanted to have my head shaved. Locals gathered round to watch this stranger joining in the ritual. Within minutes and a few deft strokes of the cutthroat razor my head was bare, the newly exposed skin cool in the early morning air. I got quite a shock when I saw myself in a mirror that the barber held up for me.

What had I done? It was certainly my moment of going with the flow in India!”

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* photo by Lavina Tien – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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mark my words. i will shave my head in India this October!!! I just booked my flight, i’m so ready for this!

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