For latest hair-cutting styles, fruit and vegetable facials, chocolate waxing, fancy threading, manicure to pedicure and much much more. Welcome to ladies only, please. Discount on pre-bridal packages (and head massages for post-marital headache!). Thus announce all those tiny beauty parlours tucked away at the end of every lane in every colony of every town, and opened by our neighbour's sister-in-law's sister's maternal aunt's neighbour. Each with it's own 20 mirrors, walls painted orange, colourful combs displayed, fancy-but-empty Revlon bottles shelved and plastic flowers galore.
Each also with it's own train of 'trained' service providers - young girls and old ever-ready to make you feel relaxed and beautiful and everything in between! Simply dressed, plaited hair, chipped nail paint, cracked heels and dusty sandals notwithstanding, these girls work hard, all day long, to make us glow to show, to pamper us, to take us away from a stressful home and make us look conventionally beauty-ful - a beauty they care not to find in the mirrors for themselves. Their most unscientific explanation for warts, black-heads, pimples, split-ends, dark circles surprisingly never challenged, and only well-believed and followed. With no one to notice, hence not question, the problems on the girls themselves. Absolutely heart-warming, them trying to make you look and feel special, knowing fully well that no one will massage their tired feet in return, dress their hair or even throw a spare compliment at them. A good day after a long day full of lotions and creams and shampoos is the lady leaving the parlour not screaming dissatisfied and no piercing frown from Mr. Parlor Manager meaning the day's salary gone!
Now, times have become 'professional' and stylish! Beauty salons and spas named after Greek goddesses are fast replacing Shabnam and Sweety, in every corner of every city. They offer technology - laser, geyser, freezer - what not! They offer pretty girls (and boys) to clean your feet for you and hang your coats too. Even thread your husband's eyebrows and do his nails too. They offer a cup of coffee with sexy Vogue, free, as they empty your purse of hard-earned money! Of course, all communication in English language, please. And no, you can't discuss Mrs. Khanna's nose or Mrs. Mehta's kitty party. No time! Who cares! Quick! Make me look like a Queen.
Where is the warmth and where those selfless ears and hands which heard you out as they pampered you, took your stress away, made you look good and feel good to the core - the human way. No shared communal feeling of warmth and sameness any more. No known names to discuss. No common colony concerns. Just foreign names, pretty girls, fancy chairs, expensive shampoos and mechanical hands.
Adieu dear Shabnam and Sweety - we will miss you!