Assignment on Cultural Exchange

Added on - 16 Sep 2019

  • Dissertation

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My Cultural exchange happened to me at work. I found this exchange veryinteresting and informative and challenged my perception of Islam women insociety.I work as a hairdresser at my home salon and I come into contact with people daily.A few weeks ago on a busy FridayI received a phone call form a woman with anaccent who spoke very good English, she had seen my advertisement online andwanted a quote for her hair colour. As I had not seen the thickness, length andregrowth of her hair I replied that I could not provide her a firm quote but if she textme a picture of her hair I would be able to. After some misunderstanding I didreceive a picture of the top of her head and quoted her the price. She thought myprice was too high and wanted me to lower my price. I offered her my promotion ofa free second service with the colour as a first time client but this did not appeal toher either. She wanted ony the colour but at a better price. At this stage I was feelinga bit irritated as I was busy with a client and had been interrupted and was stoppingand starting on the client I was working on and was wasting precious time. I offeredher a $10 discount if she was able to come down within 30 minutes as I had anhourfree in between appointments. She agreed. And within minutes called backagain much to my frustration to ask if I use Loreal hair colour which is one of themost expensive professional colours to use. I replied I did use some Loreal as well asothers and depending on her hair colour I may or may not use Loreal. But I wasthinking this person wants the best product at the cheapest price. I was feelingexasperated by the continual calls which felt similar to harrassment to me by thisstage. The client I was working on was a marketing student and commented on howhaggling works in some economies but Australia had an established economy andfixed prices and it wasn’t the done thing here. By this time I was forming a opinionbased on my past experiences with migrant clients and my own upbringing as thechild of immigrants.I had witnessed my parents so similar haggles on many occasions, it was a commonprocedure the implemented to negotiate a better price. The culture they originatedfrom haggling was common place to negotiate over inflated prices in the produceand service market. As a child I found my parents haggling embarrassing especiallywhen they tried it in places where obviously fixed prices existed and the shopowners where not ethnic. Often it worked and they got discounted prices or extrasthrown in for the same price. And as business owners themselves later on they toowere haggled. It was ritually performed and many times we children could notunderstand why our parents would do the services at little more than cost wherethey could have potentially worked less and realised greater profits with non ethnic
clients. It was a great source of frustration and conflict between the generations.Ialways felt that once I was given a quote it was up to me to decide whether I waswilling to pay the price quoted or seek an alternative quote. I now understand that Icould afford that opinion because I was not the unskilled migrant with dependentsand limited resources to have to make ends meet. Also, as it was a culturallyaccepted way of life for my parents and other immigrants this made sense.Farzana arrived and I was surprised by the length of her hair. The picture she hadsent had shown the top of her head and I felt this misrepresented what I had beenasked to quote which made me feel slightly deceived and taken advantage of. Herhair had been lightened and she had blonde foils through it. This time she wantedonly her roots retouched but no foils. I knew she was a foreigner but had no clearidea from where. Her western dress and appearance did not suggest middle east,she could have been a fair skinned Indian or Sri Lakan? From my internal referencingI was unprepared for her to be a Pakistani and a Muslim as she later revealed. I wassurprised as as I was of her only arriving in Australia the previous month.As I coloured her hair she told me her migration journey had taken five months to beapproved from commencement to arrival. She was on a South Australian statesponsored work visa and was required to reside in SA for two years. In Karachi bothshe and her husband were investment bankers. She was the mother of threedaughters, and eight year old and twin two year olds. She had lived in Sydney whereher father had been and ENT specialist from the ages of 8 to 15. The family thenreturned to Pakistan because they wanted their daughters to do further studies andmake marriages within their own culture. This I understood as my Italian parentswanted the same even though we did not live in Italy. To have married out of theirlapsed Catholic faith and Italian culture would have been met with disapproval. Shealso explained they had not been able to find employment and that the exchangerate from Pakistani rupees to Australia dollars did not work in their favour.Iimmediately felt compassion and understanding that with three dependants andtwo adults without work income money would be tight and yet she was looking forwork and wants to present with well groomed and maintained hair. She had tostretch her budget.I expressed my surprise and her dress and hair which was not covered. Sheexplained she was from a minority Muslim sect, that I had not heard of, the Ismaili.In many places they were persecuted for their liberal beliefs. She explained that theAga Khan is their Imam or spiritual leader based in Paris and he has a direct lineardescendance to the prophet Mohamed. This sect of Islam valued education andintegration with the new communities they settled in. The women were not required
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