The scene in my dorm room on Saturday August 27 was an interesting one. One of my Bhutanese roommates and my next door neighbor had decided to straighten my hair! This was funny to me at first because I cannot straighten my own hair and when I try to, it takes approximately 4-5 hours. I told them I didn’t think it was a good idea because I didn’t want to put them through that much work and trouble. Most of the Bhutanese I have met have very straight and silky hair so I couldn’t imagine how they were going to deal with my very thick and curly hair. But I
finally agreed and kept insisting they stop once they felt tired.
Once they started I got nervous because I thought they were going to end up tangling it and I’d have to deal with the problem of detangling it. They started straightening and battling with my hair and after about an hour, I could tell they were tired but they were determined on finishing it because they said it was “interesting”. After about an hour and a half, they were completely done with it and exhausted. I was completely surprised with how they had been able to manage it. They told me that this was a “lifetime experience” they’ll forever remember! I don’t know if they’ll ever ask to straighten again after that experience but we’ll see.
The day before one Bhutanese schoolmate came to my dorm at night asking whether I could braid her hair in cornrows. I was surprised and told her I didn’t know how they’d turn out because cornrows aren’t easily done with silky hair. She didn’t care; she just wanted them done and to see what she looked like with cornrows. I tried it and she really liked it; she’s hoping to be able to braid cornrows by the time I leave Bhutan because she wants to keep doing them.
Coming to Bhutan, I was nervous about how people would react to my hair because it’s different from what Bhutanese know. I’ve however gotten a lot of curious people who are interested in knowing about curly hair and how I manage my hair.
-Noel Manu (Anthropology Major and Class of 2013)