For illustrative purpose only Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

The news nowadays is all about the various skills we’ve picked up now that we’re WFH. (Working From Home, for the uninitiated). Be it baking bread, dabbling in watercolours, washing dishes, or just staring at the moon, this is the one time we can get to do many of those things we always dreamt of doing — and some we never dreamt we’d end up doing.

And that’s where I picked up the skill of barbering.

The better half, who by no stretch of the imagination can boast of a fine head of hair, was bent on having his unruly locks trimmed. Indeed, the said locks were like a shaggy grey halo around his bald pate. But there was no barber shop open, for love or money. So resourceful me ordered a hair trimmer from Amazon, the cheapest I could find. It arrived, a neat rectangular box with a set of adjustable combs and an evil-looking serrated blade. Each of the combs had a different number on it, ranging from 1.5mm to ½ an inch. I took the biggest one — the half-inch one — and inserted it into the trimmer.

“OK, let me begin,” I said, with a wicked smile on my face. The better half sat down obediently, and I ran the trimmer over the few straggly hairs above his ears. Better to start in small, unobtrusive places. “Whirr,” went the trimmer, and with what I thought was great professional finesse, I slid it down the hair

New barber

Nothing happened.

All the comb did was to function as a normal comb, smoothening down the hair.

“Uh oh,” I said, “I think I need to insert a smaller one.”

I tried with smaller and smaller combs, but to no avail.

“Why don’t you hold it the other way round, and comb upwards?” asked the better half.

I did so — and voila — the first bunch of grey hair was visible on the comb. (Which just goes to show that we sometimes have to approach a problem from a different angle — but this is stepping into the realm of philosophy, and we’ll leave that for another cuff).

From then onwards, it was as easy as ABC, trimming all the way round, and I achieved what I consider a near-professional look, barring a couple of stray greys that grew over the ears that stubbornly refused to be trimmed.

And that, my dear reader, was my introduction to my first trim, something I would never have done if it were not for COVID-19.

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What are some of the new skills you’ve picked up? If you are a male, you would have probably learnt to wash dishes and clean around, or help kids with the homework, perhaps even sung a lullaby — all normally considered part of a woman’s workload. I consider this blurring of roles a good thing, good for both partners as well as the kids. It will pave the way for a generation of boys who will not demarcate work according to gender.

There are other things too I’ve learnt from this prolonged period of staying home. One of them is navigating the TV, learning how to reset channels that mysteriously disappear. Self-control too, as I stop myself from needlessly opening the fridge for the hundredth time to see if there’s something to munch. (One of the classic cartoons making the rounds is of this extremely obese couple who are telling each other that, now that the lockdown’s over, how will we exit through that narrow door?)

I am now eying the electric drill — a picture needs to be hung. Dare I take this up, or call the professionals? But I have a surge of newfound confidence unleashed by my barbering experiment. Watch out, walls! Here I come!

— Padmini B. Sankar is a Dubai-based freelance writer