I am a firm believer that every woman, whatever her age, looks, shape, financial status, nationality, race, religion...should take time to pamper herself. It can be done in a public Hammam, at the hairdresser, in your own home, in a spot in nature or at the beauty parlour...It can be done anywhere, but it must be done. Beats therapeutic shopping.
I don't care how broke I am, I always make it a point to go to the beauty parlor. OK, yes, am a vain, narcissistic coquette - sue me for being too bourgeois. Or if my Oriental feminine slants irritate you too much, you can always consider booking me on a sea resort getaway - Gitmo style. I don't care. I'm sticking to pampering myself.
So my pampering ritual consists of waxing, nails, eyebrows, hair - a good 5 hours, once every two weeks. Not bad really. I know other women who spend every day changing their nail color and having their hair done. I just settle for once every fortnight. And I feel absolutely great afterwards - to the horror of the "feminist" readers. Don't you just love controversy ? I relish it.
So today I went to the beauty parlor. It was jammed packed. All women of course. Frankly it has nothing of a real beauty parlor look or feel to it.
I always swallow two panadols before heading there. The staff's kids run around screaming their heads off, tripping on your freshly painted toe nails, snatching the towels from your lap - a nursery / beauty parlor. And the rooms where the torture sessions take place - waxing - they look more like very narrow prison beds, and one wrong move/kick of the leg and you might end up in the next cubicle...
Of course, you are made privy to hearing all kinds of personal stories - intimate stuff but you pretend you hear nothing.
And among the giggles and blushes, you occasionally hear a loud "Ouch, akhhhhh, this hurts, easy on the bikini line. Stop, you're killing me. I hate you for torturing me this way " or " a few more hairs here, la'a, no, here...right here...and the girl exclaims for the 100th time, in total desperation " Wallah I removed everything. Here take the mirror and see for yourself..."
There is one small and one big mirror there. The small mirror is always missing because someone has monopolized it, inspecting and ensuring there are no hairs left or that her eye brows are PERFECTLY symmetrical.
The big mirror on the other hand is broken in the middle and when you are taken by this insane fantasy of admiring yourself after the whole work is done, you see two of you staring back...kind of split in the middle.
But then you pretend you look absolutely perfect, since you have just spent 5 friggin hours being plucked like a live chicken and blow dried until you feel your skull has evaporated.
But everything returns to normal when you are waiting for your nails to dry, sipping your coffee and cursing the hour...unless one of the kids bumps into your plastic chair and spills it over your freshly done nails which means a new start all over again and another hour to go in this beauty parlor/nursery/torture chamber.
But today, things went relatively smoothly. The kids were asleep in one of the torture cubicles. So it was not really necessary to discreetly bring out my cotton balls from my bag and stick them deep into my ears all the way to my eardrums.
But I was in for a surprise - well not really.
This beauty parlor/nursery/torture place has a radio blasting away, a TV blasting away - over and above the phone and cell phones endless rings, over and above the usual cacophony of female voices, talking -- non stop.
How can women talk that much without getting tired ? They talk on the phone, talk on the cell, talk amongst each other, eavesdrop and involve themselves in other's conversations when they were not included to start with. Snoop around with great curiosity like some private detective, about to uncover this or the other when it is none of their business...I mean how do women handle all of that, all at once and not get tired ? This I never understood.
So I was saying, the TV was on and suddenly everyone, I mean everyone went solemnly quiet. A total silence. What on earth happened ? I raised my head up there to the wall where the TV is literally dangling from and what do you I see ?
The famous TV - soapy, sentimentally jerky, Turkish serial called Noor.
Noor is made of 450 friggin episodes. So far 150 have run on the screen. And everyone, I mean everyone is talking about Noor. At the grocer's, at the hairdresser, at the beauty parlor, at the electrician, at the plumber, at the telephone company, in government offices - I hear nothing but Noor.
Did you know what happened to Lamis in Noor ? Did you see how Hiyha loved Tartempion in Noor ? Did you hear about Madame Castafiore falling pregnant in Noor ?...and it goes and on and on...
I obviously don't know the cast's names because I NEVER WATCH THIS TURKISH JUNK.
The other day I went to a doctor's clinic and fuck it - he was watching Noor. He said " how can I help you ?" I said "Don't bother, I suddenly feel quite well. Will pop by again some other time."
So Noor was on and hence the silence.
And the women's remarks
- This X is sooo handsome, really handsome...
I looked and this X looked like some Turkish truand about to go for the kill in one of Istanbul's dark alleyways.
Another woman said - "Nooo, the other guy, Z. is more handsome, Ya Allah shoo heloo."
I looked again and this badly shaved guy, with the rugged look and the hair gel reminded me of those sleek cheap playboys who guarantee to pass on their herpes or warts, should you approach them.
And a third said - " Laaa, noooo, what are you talking about! Look at Y, he is the best...so loving"
So I looked up at the screen again, and saw a guy with a moustache thick and long enough to cover his whole face and eyes darting passion - a passionate anger. Loving indeed.
The worst part of course, is that this crappy Turkish serial is dubbed in the most grotesque, heaviest of Syrian accents.
The only place where Noor was silenced was at the hairdresser (not to be confused with the beauty parlor - two distinct places OK!).
I think this hairdresser is originally Armenian, because about 3 weeks ago I went there for a hair trim, and Noor was playing. He stormed out of his tiny back office and said in the loudest of voices - Kiss Emm this Turkish crap, shut it NOW.
But getting back to the Beauty parlor...
So I said to one of the manicurists - For God's sake, will you please explain to me what is so attractive about these guys ?
She replied without raising her head - What do you expect - we are surrounded with females all day long. They look like men and we feel like women when we see them
So I pushed a little further - I was bored and feeling a little mischievous
- But you are married aren't you? Implying that she does have a man around her - some supposedly positive yang energy.
This time, she straightened her head up and just raised her eyebrows, as if to say...
And continued filing away dreams to the sound of the Turkish drivel called Noor.
Painting: Iraqi artist, Jabel Al-Saria, 2007.