Travel in 1976 echoed the lost hippy days. I refused to get a haircut anywhere, not because I detested short hair, but out of a fear of lice. My afro hid my hair’s true length. It grew up, not down.
I boarded a flight from Jakarta to Singapore. Jakarta’s chaos, poverty and filth contrasted with Singapore’s organization, pristine streets and wealth. Hard to believe they lay one hour apart by plane.
The Singaporian government hated hippies and especially those with long hair. They defined this as hair that covered the ears and shoulders. Mine covered my ears, but unless you stretched it out, not the shoulders.
Failure to meet Singaporian standards ment two things: either refused entry or a military style haircut. All male travellers dreaded this haircut. I hated all haircuts. The idea of short hair repulsed me. There must be a solution to this horrible dilemma.
As I stood in line awaiting to have my passport stamped, I noticed the immigration officer could not see me until the last minute. I thought for a second, why not push the hair behind my ears. Quickly, I stuffed my hair behing my ears making me look like a 70’s version of dumbo. Poof, no hippie!
I stood in front of the immigration officier. He appraised me for hippiness. He gazed at me for a few long seconds. I stood nervously. It seemed I passed the test and he stamped the passport, giving me seven days, which was plenty in expensive Singapore.
I walked way, placing my fingers in my hair and flinging the hair back to its original position. No more ears! I had the honour of being the first person with long hair to enter Singapore. President Lee would roll in his grave if he found out!