Fabric Jungle collage is at the end of this blog entry….
The following account has nothing to do with Fabric Jungle…just an entertaining insight into a day at the Beauty Spa.
Even though it is a far cry from a 5 Star Hotel, there are many great things about staying at the Likir House. First of all, internet is FREE! In the hotels, WiFi connection cost around $10-$16 (US$) dollars for 24 hour usage!
And the Tibetan girls who run this place rock!
Another great aspect of this guesthouse is its location. Likir House is in Lajpat Nagar, a bustling neighborhood in Delhi. There are no shortages of markets nearby. Open air markets, one stall after another, and various restaurants are everywhere within walking distance.
I went in search of a hair salon, which is called a Beauty Spa here. The one I was told about was closed. Instead, next to the closed Beauty Spa, I discovered a shop filled with antique fabrics and clothing from Gujarat. The owner , Devi, was an interesting woman who told me about the various fabric and clothing. I found an antique silk embroidered shawl that was inexpensive and unique and purchased it.
I asked Devi about the other racks of clothing that looked brand new. She said those are also unique creations made by the people working for her in the back part of the building.
“Can I see the workers?”
“Of course! Come with me!”
She took me to the back of the building, to a clothing factory she also owned, where many men and one woman were busily sewing, working hard to create beautiful fashions. She proudly explained that they are part of a union and receive benefits.
We returned to the shop and as I was paying, I noticed a plastic covered faded photo above the clothing racks. It was Devi posing with Hillary Clinton!
“Is that really Hillary Clinton?” It seemed so unlikely that Hillary would have stumbled upon this shop!
“Oh, yes! She honored me by coming to my shop. That was five years ago before I have baby. See how slim I was?”
“I can’t believe you met Hillary!”
“Oh, yes! She is very very kind, but something very funny! She bought many clothes from my shop and when I say cost, she asked me for discount! Funny, yes?”
“Yes, very funny! I can’t believe she asked you for a discount! Did you give her a discount, Devi?”
“Yes. 10% discount. I was so embarrassed she asked, so I feel I must give discount. Acha?”
Devi’s prices are fixed. It says so on the shop door. Maybe she put that sign up after her encounter with Hillary!
I was feeling indulgent, so after my non-discounted purchases, Devi told me where I could go get a pedicure and my hair done. She said I could hire a bicycle rickshaw, and she explained how to get to the Beauty Spa. She went to the roadside with me and chose the skinniest bicycle-rickshaw man for me. I always feel guilty using bicycle-rickshaws, though everyone does and the men are so happy to get work. When on a rickshaw, I always feel incredibly heavy and always vow, in India, to eat a little less at meal time, just so the rickshaw-wallah doesn’t have to work so hard.
I was trying really hard to memorize the streets and landmarks, so that I could find my way back to the Likir House. We passed several landmarks I would certainly NOT forget: Jaws Dental Clinic, the Fatty Slim Down Gym for Ladies, and the Bata Footwear Shop.
Ten minutes later, I arrived at Indian Ladies’ Paradise. The Beauty Spa was filled with lovely Indian women getting every type of service from hair straightening, hair coloring, scalp and head massage, hair cutting, blow drying, Threading eyebrows and upper lips right out on the main floor in view of the street. The only women employees in the Beauty Spa were the ones with thread held between their teeth, leaning over the beautiful women, working methodically and quickly to remove extra facial hair via a method called Threading.
All the pedicurists and hair stylists were men. Devi made the appointment for me and arranged for Shyam do my hair. Shyam did a great job and spoke some English. He had just come back from the Maha Kumbh Mela and was telling me about it in half English and half Hindi. Between my various treatments (hair color, deep conditioning, shampoo, head massage, shoulder massage, hair trim, and blow dry and styling), a number of men would take over and work on me as Shyam skittered about, tending to the other women in the shop. It seemed to be the happiest place on earth. I was served copious amounts of chai. While the deep conditioning oils were soaking in my hair, I had the most unbelievable pedicure by a young man named Sanjay.
Sanjay took me to a quiet room where I was separated from the party-like atmosphere going on in the main room. In this quiet room, he worked on my feet for nearly an hour! He spoke no English and I speak no Hindi except for a few precious words, but that did not stop him from chatting. He would ask me questions and when I said, “I’m so sorry! I don’t understand”, he would speak louder and smile more. It was the best pedicure I have ever had. My feet were pretty bad (India is brutal on the feet!) and between chatting loudly and singing Hindi Bollywood songs along with the overhead stereo system, he would make sounds like, “GAH!”, “AFFF”, “HEEE”, while scrubbing my feet. These were definitely sounds of disgust, given the expression on his face and the condition of my feet. Then he would look at me and break into a hyena-laughter. I really liked him! Not only was this the best pedicure I have ever had, it was also a crash course in Hindi.
I was there for 5 solid hours getting pampered. I had no idea I would be gone for so long. My bill for all the services was just over $60 (the pedicure was 500 rupees or $10! Unbelievable.
The Beauty Spa Owner asked me how I would get back to the Likir House and I told him I would take an auto-rickshaw. My hunch is that ever since the horrific gang rape and murder of a young woman two months ago, many Delhi citizens are concerned and looking out for women, making sure all are safe. I don’t have Arvind to protect me at the moment, but I felt well looked after by the Tibetan girls, Devi, and now the Beauty Spa owner. He insisted on walking me to the street and called forth the scrawniest bicycle rickshaw man in all of India. The Beauty Spa Owner explained to the rickshaw man how to get me back to the Likir House and I could follow his Hindi enough to know that he was describing the directions I had taken in reverse.
Good. But not good! The scrawny guilt-inducing bicycle rickshaw man decided to take a short cut back to the Likir House and he got lost! I couldn’t help him because I had only one route memorized. All my memorized landmarks were gone. And, believe me, I was looking forward to seeing the Fatty Slim Down Gym for Ladies once again, but that was not to be. The 10-minute laborious rickshaw ride turned out to be some 30 minutes long. Upon arrival, I peeled out a good sum of money to assuage my guilt and vowed to eat one chapatti less this evening!
I forgot to mention that Shyam, the hair stylist, styled my hair in such a way that I somehow ended up looking like a Bollywood star! He was so proud and I was SO embarrassed. I could have died as the new Fran-ji looked in the mirror, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I said thank you and walked out. Back at the Likir House, the Tibetan girls were all over me! They were quite impressed with my new Hair-with-Flair Look! After this photo was taken, I wet it down so I would look more like me!
End of story….
And finally, here is a collage on the many fabrics and textiles I photographed while in India:
|This free picture collage made with Smilebox|