Yesterday afternoon I washed my hair for the first time since I’ve been in my village. The first time I saw the bathing arrangements a whispered “Oh Lord” passed my lips. I am not an OCD bather. I do not shower every day. I will shower if an activity carried out during the day calls for it. Hair washing occurs probably every 5 days. I am not finicky about bathing, but it is, of course, a necessity. And I do find washing my hair a bit time consuming and laborious even in the States. So I was a little nervous about these new arrangements.
The whole bathroom is tiled and there is a hole in the floor for a drain. The remains of what used to be a shower head are on the wall and a bucket and scoop—the new technology—sit under. I was initially not sure if hot water was an option. I remembered some of the other teachers who’d already been placed saying that bathing was quite a process in their villages and wondered if it would be the same for me.
So for various reasons, I put off discovering how this whole bathing thing would go. However, my hair was rapidly approaching a critical state and it forced my hand. I had mentioned to my host sister that I might have to wash my hair today. She said she also needed to wash hers. So this afternoon she asked me if I wanted to wash my hair and I said yes, but I did not want to come across demanding or pushy since I did not know how much work was involved. So I pulled out my Georgian-English dictionary to look up “if possible” to hedge my request. I found an entry for it which was “tu sheidzleba” and said it questioningly. Something about it sounded off and it popped into my head that that is also the expression for “please”. So instead of hedging my request, I think I came off imploring since everyone laughed and went to make arrangements. I went to my room to gather my things.
When I came back down, two large buckets of very hot water were waiting. Tamta, my host sister, showed me how to add cool water to adjust the temperature. She showed me the drain. My host mom came with a fresh bar of soap and a clean towel, something I was very glad to see. Another teacher had a horrifying tale of sharing the same towel with her entire family until she could get to a bazaar. And then they left me to it.
For the record, it was a great bathing experience; none of my fears were realized. I left clean, happy, and at peace. And I was also impressed at how much less water I used. All in all a satisfying experience. I guess I will get to keep my hair after all!