What exactly is threading? I’d never heard of it before and when I saw this barber doing it I was a bit curious and asked some of the men at the barber shop to explain it to me. I was due for a haircut and found an Indian barber who only charged a few bucks and I thought I’d give it a go. Some of the other men waiting to get their hair cut were friends of the barber and they chatted as he worked on an Omani man’s hair. This young man was getting married that evening and he was getting the full workup: haircut, shave, facial, pedicure, manicure and he was also getting “threaded.” The men next to me explained that “threading” removes unwanted hair by pulling it out at the root so that it takes longer to grow back. For men it is used to shape eyebrows and to remove hair from the upper cheeks and other facial areas.
And so, it was quite a long wait as this Omani man was getting a full “makeover” for his wedding day. We asked him if he was nervous and he just shrugged as though he had been married three times already. Hmmm…. maybe he has been married 3 times already. The men explained to me that a single piece of thread or string is held by one hand at the end of the string, the second hand takes a loop in the center of the string and the other end of the string is held in the barber’s mouth. Using one hand, the barber turns the middle part of the string so that the middle portion of the string forms a twist or spiral. Laying the wound string across the target area, the barber pulls one end of the string back and forth while holding the other string taut, in this way the string spins as it winds and unwinds. As the string winds under pressure the barber aims the opening of the coil at hair to be removed and as the strings combine and corkscrew, the hair is pulled into the string. Since the hair is now coiled inside of the string it is gripped very tightly and is pulled out by the root.
I asked the men if the process was painful and they said that it hurt a little bit but not too bad and later, after I got my hair cut the barber gave me a demonstration by pulling out some hair on the side and back of my neck. It stung a little bit but not too bad, I’ve never had hair waxed before but I imagine it feels about the same. I’ve not seen the procedure at other barber shops in the world even at Indian barber shops and I just thought that the process was quite ingenious. While sitting waiting for my turn to get my hair cut I chatted with these Indian men and they told me all about their lives working as expat workers in Oman. They told me that they were happy living here and that it was a good life, the salaries were much higher than in their home country and they were glad to be here. The reinforced my belief that the Omani people were quite nice in comparison to some other Arab Gulf states (something I would come to learn later).
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