Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chinese Nail Salon Adventures

Today... was better.

As my mom likes to say "Move a muscle, change a thought" ... or ( the more passive version of the same quote) "This too shall pass..."

I "moved muscles" today. I did laundry. I went to China Communication Bank and put 400 RMB into the account to pay my utilities bill for the month. I paid my rent. I put money away in my "savings folder" for  my Thailand trip in January. I played some "Words With Friends" and "Hanging With Friends" ( with friends in the USA!), I spent about 90 minutes each practicing "Mandarin" and "Cantonese" using the software on my computer.

and I got my eyebrows waxed.

Eyebrow waxing is not usually an adventure. I've had mine waxed here in China about three times now and it's typically quick and relatively painless and costs about 10 RMB ( about $1.60). There are a TON of nail salons in the shopping mall where my school is located. There is one hallway on the 4th floor where my school is that is literally "shoulder to shoulder" nail/hair salons. I'm not sure what the difference is with each .... but I've gone to several different ones for manicures/pedicures.

They are truly fascinating and unique and colorful places though. Each one. I'm really surprised that there hasn't been a movie titled "Nail Salon" made yet- in the same way as there has been "Barbershop" and "Beautyshop" because Asian nail salons are FULL of stories and great characters! Someone needs to get on that.... Margaret Cho are you listening?!

I've "shopped around" for a good nail/eyebrow place several times in the mall here because #1- the first place that I went to - I felt that I was being overcharged and I didn't like the attitude of the shop owner and #2. I've forgotten the exact location of the last two places that I went to! (because there are SO many around each corner and they are all so close to each other). The last place that I went to for a manicure... was jaw dropping... literally... and fascinating...  a woman was having some sort of a "mouth procedure" done while I was sitting in my chair getting my nails done. Like a dental procedure... in the nail salon. There was gauze in her mouth and lots of blood and some sort of a drill.  Her lips looked puffy but the woman working on her wasn't injecting anything into them. I wish I knew the Chinese words to ask WHAT they were doing to her. I'm not afraid of blood and couldn't take my eyes off her. She even TOOK THREE PHONE CALLS while she was having this "mouth procedure" done???!!

So, since I unfortunately forgot where THAT salon was, this place that I went to today was the 4th place I've been to. I walked in and it was quiet- maybe three other customers- and I went up to the woman at the computer who looked like "the boss" and said "Ni Hao ... Wo Yao ...meimao" ( Hello I want .... *points to eyebrows*.. eyebrows") meaning that I wanted to get them waxed. She gestured to a young girl who took me to a chair and gave me a headband.

A headband? I figured that she wanted me to put it on, but I had no idea why. I don't usually wear headbands. Hair elastics.... yeah sure, but I'm not really a headband kinda girl. My eyebrows weren't SO overgrown that they were creeping up my forehead.  With the headband in hand, or errrr... on my head... I knew that this was going to be.... different. THEN seeing the girl pull out this big long ( and STRONG) white thread that looked like dental floss and seeing the old man and woman talking about and staring at me, watching this all from across the room, ...confirmed my suspicion.

I was about to have my face "threaded". It was "threading" that's the word. I had never been "threaded". I've had a little laser around my  eyebrows and chin and bikini line a few times before. I don't consider myself a very "hairy" person. I don't really like a lot of extra body hair on me. But I don't mind it on other people. It's a personal choice. To each his/her own.  I try to tweeze any little stray hairs I find, but the way this girl was working on me ... you'd think I was hiding behind a mask of hair.  She "threaded" everywhere - even up into my hairline a little.

I just sat back and let her go at it.... as long as she trimmed my eyebrows...  AND as long as it didn't cost too much extra. The thread was strong. My eyes were closed and tearing a little from the pressure/pain and it felt like the thread was vibrating - even though it was not electric,  it wasn't "plugged into" anything. It ( and she) was just SO strong.

"Jigga ...Doh Shao Chen?" - How much does this cost?" I asked her. I thought that she said 40 RMB
 (which is a little expensive for a mistake, but whatever. ok)  but in the end it turned out to be only 15 RMB ( about $2.50).... whew!

It was slightly awkward and humbling. Truly no privacy. No room for personal space. But in the same way, I felt a connection was built between me and this girl. Since she has entered my personal space so "deeply" already - and was so kind and thorough and didn't overcharge me - I feel comfortable going back to that same salon for manicures/pedicures ... and "whatever else" ... in the future. Hair was removed, trust was embedded.

AND I will remember this salon because it has the same kind of black and white (instead of the typically "red and white") spinning "barbershop" light thingy outside of the door.

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