November 14, 2008

In India, women spend hours getting ready for a party. They go to the beauty parlour in the afternoon to get their hair and nails done, and depending on the needs of the day : shoulder massage, threading, facial, etc. Women take great care of themselves.

What I find interesting is the total lack of sex-appeal in the places that create sex-appeal.

Delhi does have a couple of plush posh parlours, like the one at the Oberoi, but mostly people go to their local joint, which usually looks like a dirty launderette.

For years the best parlour in town was in a private house in Defence Colony. Not only was it totally illegal, but it looked more like a small factory than an upscale beauty salon. Bare walls, plastic buckets, cheap creams and faded towels. Everyone sat together in the big living room turned beauty factory, faces covered in mud packs and hair dripping with oil. It was called Shampoo but since it wasn’t written anywhere I wonder whether there was a name at all. It got shut by the authorities but it reopened in the garage. A little too small to accommodate a big and eager clientele, but still, everyone went. Finally it shut for real, and Delhi suffered from hair-panic. Where to go? Where to gossip in the comforting smell of nail polish?

The grapevine has located a couple of the Shampoo girls in a new beauty parlour in Khanna Market but I haven’t checked it out yet.

And to think that when I arrived in India I was a manicure-virgin.