Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dubai Ink

The idea originated with our friend Lynze about a week ago.  "We need to do something cultural" she said.  "I've decided we need to go to a henna parlor, are you in?"  I've only had a henna tattoo one other time and that was 11 years ago when I was in Israel.  It was a simple affair, just a quick design about the size Post-it note, so I told Lynze, "Sure I'm in."  It took more convincing to wrangle our friend Fiona who was adamant that she didn't want one, but with the right amount of peer pressure and the promise of lunch afterward she relented.

So off we went to the "other side" of the city where we could actually find our henna parlor.  Lynze had secured a recommendation from a local lady and when we arrived for our body art the woman behind the counter said "Oh you must be the foreigners that Fatima told us about."  Foreigners?  I don't know if this is a good start.

 Beauty Saloo?  What were we getting ourselves into?

For most local women the traditional spots for henna designs are on the hands and feet.  The three of us all wanted to choose places where it could be revealed or concealed at will so we had to be a bit more creative.  I had decided on my back, Lynze her side, and Fiona her foot.  After slipping off our shoes and entering the room lined with cushions I was approached by one of the ladies who asked if I was ready to begin.  I proceeded to ask if there was a design book that I could look at and she looked at me like I was crazy.  (Stupid foreigner - no doubt).
"You sleep now" she said.  Sleep?  I didn't come to sleep.  After about a minute I realized that 'sleep' meant 'lay down' and before I could say inshallah I could feel the cold gel on my back.  She was going in blind and I had no idea was I was going to get!  Lynze and Fiona gave themselves up to the process (or lack thereof) and then we started with peals of laughter.

 "Sleeping" while our henna dries


It was a great experience and we ended up having alot of fun with the Indian ladies who specialized in the art.  They were warm and funny and despite a few language barriers they were able to educate us on the finer points of the tradition.

The final product is much lighter than what you see above.  The gel takes about 45 minutes to dry and then you have to wait another 90 before you chip off the gel to reveal the final design.  It will last 1-2 weeks depending on how you 'care' for it.  Soap and loofahs being the number one enemy.  We were told on our way out the door to rub Vic's Vapor Rub on it to intensify the color and prolong the life.  Vic's?  Who the heck figured that out?

 Should I make it permanent?
Lynze and I are planning our next trip back, but Fiona still hasn't gotten over her "orange foot" so we'll have to see who turns up for Round 2 in a couple of weeks!


jimdad said...

'Glad you had fun, but I believe that the words "tatoo" and "permanent" should not be allowed in the same blog post.

And if soap is the main enemy of this media, I'm not sure that feet are the best location.

I'm just saying.

Victoria Welch said...

So glad you enjoyed your experience and actually got henna, not PPD, which is prevalent in that part of the world. Henna should be left on at least 4-8 hours to achieve a good dark brown stain. Vic's is not needed, just time... I hope you enjoy many more henna applications. It's a beautiful and wonderful woman's tradition!