Thursday, January 6, 2011

Life's simple pleasures...

At Jacques Dessange in Paris in the late 1970s
Sometimes it is the simple pleasures in life that go a long way in making a difference to the rhythm of our days.

One of these, I discovered when I came to live in Dubai, is a professional manicure-pedicure treatment at a nail salon. It’s so insignificant in the scale of priorities and maybe that’s what makes it a pleasure.

I thought about that because it is one of the treats I gave up more than six months ago because of the soaring prices in the emirate. But luckily, I received a gift voucher for a “mani-pedi” from Santa… and off I went a couple of days ago to my favorite nail salon on Jumeirah Beach Road for some pampering.

My first experience at a nail salon was when I visited Dubai in the summer of 2006, before moving from London. It seemed the task to do and part of the tourist’s exploration of the city. I was impressed by the cleanness, the products used and the expertise of the nail technicians who are all women from the Philippines.

In London, I never had the time -- and I wasn’t able to afford it anyway.  It was good training in how to do this myself at home, including cutting my hair. Hairdressers, let alone nail salons, were so expensive, that I’d run a comb through my hair and cut everything above the comb’s teeth. As well as saving money, this was an easy hairdo to maintain, especially that I went swimming every day.

One of the facts you notice is that in the heat, everything grows much faster and it is difficult to keep up with nails and hair. This also applies in nature here. Plants, flowers, trees, hedges, everything grows at an incredible pace.

Once settled in Dubai, I reserved my Saturday mornings for this grooming ritual and would take myself off to the nail salon which was just in front of Jumeirah Mosque. The hairdresser was another story. I find them expensive even in Dubai. I wait until I go to Beirut to get that sorted out. I cut my fringe myself meantime -- not always well I might add.

In Beirut, I have known my hairdresser, Ibrahim, for years. He was my mum Vicky’s hairdresser, as well as most of the women in the Hamra area. His salon on Sadat Street hasn’t changed in 30 years. You’re in and out in 15 minutes, 20 maximum, with a fantastic haircut and blow dry, all the gossip and an excellent cup of coffee only for LL 20,000 ($13). No one beats Lebanese hairdressers at a blow dry.

The only time I went to a fancy hairdresser was in Paris in 1978. I was covering Paris Fashion Week for my magazine in Beirut and got invited by Jacques Dessange to try out one of their salons. It was fun but, if I remember correctly, the haircut was so-so!

The nails are done...
and the toes too!
As usual, I digress… The manicure-pedicure ritual is relaxing and gives me a feel-good boost, unless the chosen salon plays terrible background music. Disco at 10 a.m. is not my craze. The best part of the session is the massage you get to the hands and feet at the end, just before the color is applied. (You can have a look here)

The two ladies who always help me, Summer and Vera, have become good friends. We keep in touch and I follow the progress of their children and families back in the Philippines.

Thank you ladies and I hope to see you again – before Santa leaves me a new gift voucher in December 2011!