Thursday, December 8, 2011


It's been ages since I had my eyebrows threaded. Actually, it's been three years, but I just woke up to the fact that all other Indian ladies of my acquaintance had a soigné look that comes from well-defined eyebrows, while I didn't.
Last weekend, on a rare trip to the mall, I walked past the 'Miracle Eyebrow' store, new in its location. A lone lady sat hidden behind the counter, a couple of reclining armchairs and large mirror in the front.
Should I, or shouldn't I ? Would it be expensive? Would I be better off begging for the phone number of a local housewife who threads eyebrows for $5 a pop from my friends? Maybe I should try the mall version, just this once.
I trotted up to the counter and asked. The lady looked sort of Indian, maybe a hint of the North-East in her features. 'How much do you charge for threading?"
"Fourteen dollars."
That was easily at least twice as much as the home-brew version. But who had the inclination or time to hunt those out? I took a chance on this one.
She directed me to a dentist's chair with a comfortable recline to the back and head support, pulled out a reel of white thread and started plucking away.
"Where are you from?" she asked. "Pittsburgh", I mumbled.
"No, before you came here."
"Where are you from?", I asked.
"How many years have you lived in America?", she asked.
"About eighteen. What about you?"
"Eighteen!" I could hear the surprise in her voice . "I have been here only one-two years."
"Do you like America?"
"It feels like winning the lottery, coming here."
Silence, as she got to a tricky spot. A few minutes later, "Are you Hindu?"
"Yes". Curious question, why would it matter? Or maybe this was her idea of small talk.
"So you go to the temple in Monroeville."
"Where are you from in Nepal?"
"What is your name?"
"Sundori", with a slightly harsh edge to the accent.
She was finishing off at this point, with little careful trim to some errant hairs, completing with a dab of some cologne around the plucked area. I sat up and examined my reflection in the hand mirror.
Perfect, not a hair more or less, just the way I like it. When you have been blessed with reasonable eyebrows that need minimal shaping, it takes a good threader indeed to exercise the required restraint and not go overboard with the plucking
I paid at the counter, and added a couple of dollars as a tip. Her eyes widened at that. Maybe she is not used to being tipped much, especially by Indian ladies. We have a well-deserved reputation for parsimony.
Will I go back, or to some lady who I need to locate anew? ( Out of pity at the 'exhorbitant' charge, one of my friends at the dance class pulled out her phone to give me the number, she charges only $7 a pop, but is 'extremely busy'.)
I don't know. Maybe in another few months, if and when I feel there is a need, I might just stop by the mall again, to see if Sundori and her store are still there.

Note: Being curious, I tried to find out about Nepali refugees in Pittsburgh, and found that they are ethnic Nepalis fleeing Bhutan, and being resettled in the US by UNHCR. That's why the hesitation to the answer 'Kathmandu'. It's possible that Sundori was originally from Bhutan and transited to the US via Kathmandu.

My post up on Accidental Blogger about the ironies of the Bhutan refugees and the concept of Gross National Happiness that the Bhutan government pioneered a few years ago.

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