So today, I was craving a facial and was dying to get some down time in the relaxing confines of a saloon (I still want to say “salon” like it is in the US, as opposed to “saloon”). But when in Rome, it’s usually in one’s best interest to do what the Roman’s do. I was also craving a facial because my face was feeling grimy and oily from all the dust, dirt, and grime it has been exposed to in the last 3 months of living here. Not to forget, every time I have a shower and wash my face with a cleansing oil, it does not take me more than 15 minutes to see sweat beads on my face. Thus, my face really needed some TLC, to say the least.
Now, I could have taken the time and made the effort to research good spas or saloons in and around the area, but I was too tired. Yes tired, not because I did anything “tiring” per say, but because it is almost the end of November and it was 36 degrees Celsius this afternoon (97 degrees Fahrenheit) coupled with 70% humidity. This is a whole new concept of winter for me, and I hate it!! Anyhow, I decided to try the local saloon in my neighborhood and I knew I should not expect to be treated like I was at the Ritz Carlton or something, but I also hoped that I would have a pretty relaxing experience.
So, there i was, on the table and definitely got a facial, although the ultra relaxing aspect of it was missing. To simplify my experience, and because San Francisco is my only yardstick, I will break down my experience in the pros for getting facials for both cities.
Pros of getting a facial in Mumbai (at a mediocre saloon):
1. The facial lasted for 1 hour and 15 minutes, as opposed to the 50-60 minute facials I was accustomed to in SF.
2. The facial comes with a mini back massage (which lasts about 5-7 minutes). I could never expect that in SF.
3. The cosmetician takes great pains to massage your face and neck for about 25 minutes, again, something I am not used to in a facial in SF.
Pros of getting a facial in San Francisco (at a mediocre saloon):
1. Your hair is neatly tucked in with a band and made sure, as far as humanly possible, that it did not interfere with the facial. Today, although the cosmetician did tuck my hair back with a band, it wasn’t done well enough because every 10 minutes or so, she would have to pull strands of hair off my face.
2. The temperature of each room is controlled to ensure the comfort of the client. Nope! This was not to be. The person in the next room was feeling warm, and her cosmetician turned on the fan full speed, much to my displeasure. When I expressed my dissatisfaction to my cosmetician, she didn’t really do anything about it except to mutter, “Sunita, turn the fan down a little.” Mind you, each “room” is created by diving walls that are made of concrete, but the walls don’t go all the way up to the ceiling. So, the concept of “temperature control” is null and void in such a saloon.
3. You get soft, serene, relaxing music playing in the background, lulling you into a state of relaxation. I got old Hindi songs cranking out of a beat up boom box….but, luckily they were pleasant songs and not plain old cacophony that you get in the newer Hindi films.
4. Finally, I used to get to hear my own breath and the soothing music when I got my facials in SF. In Mumbai, I got to hear the conversations of the lady in the next room, I got to hear the giggles of two girls who were getting pedicures, of chairs being dragged around the saloon, and of people going in and out. One of the conversations I overheard, while attempting to get a relaxing facial, was between these two women who were talking about their tailors; how one of the women’s tailor won’t give her back the finished product until she is completely satisfied with it, and how he is “too good” when stitching Indian clothes. Another conversation revolved around how one of the women is now ready to show her legs in public because she “just recently started waxing.” I was just amazed at these conversations, wondering if I should laugh at my fate or……if I should just laugh at my fate!
Anyways, I got my facial done, paid the woman, and had to ask myself if I was in the Twilight Zone or something. I sure as hell did not get a very relaxing facial, but I did have an experience that I will never forget!