You may have guessed by now that my daughter Michele and I are not terribly interested in the high end boutiques and galleries which populate Newbury Street. So, our amblings found us on the upper end of the street which is clearly an area with the young and hip in mind. Be that as it may, one should stroll all the way down Newbury just to see the street change, and go from ridiculous to sublime, or vice versa.
There was a sign in this gift shop which is situated below ground level offering henna tattoos. So, Michele and I decided to investigate. We entered the store, and it is neatly arranged, with open vitrines displays of statuettes, musical instruments, all sorts of self-stick henna designs and jewels for the body, jewelry, and some clothing. On the counter, you will find the henna design books from which you can choose your ornament. I decided to do a floral design which covers most of the hand and up the pointer finger. Michele went for something more "subtle" which was a cross between geometric and floral on the inside of her lower arm.
We were watching as the shop owner was painstakingly finishing up her tattoo on a young woman and for $20.00 each, we would leave this place irrevocably changed, at least for 2 weeks. We learned an interesting fact from the artist, in that you have to prime the area with oil (olive or other will do) so that the henna dye takes better. She applies it with a fairly thin brush but the mixture is thick and gets clumpy as it dries then it falls off and hopefully leaves a design with sufficient reddish/brick color. This art form is called Mehndi and has been used in the Mid-East and Asia for centuries. It is a traditional art of decorating the hands and feet with a paste made from the leaves of the henna plant. It is also believed that this ritual protects the wearer from evil spirits.
On the more practical side, it’s fun, doesn’t hurt, and fades after a couple of weeks.
Bayside, New York
September 21, 2001
From journal Boston Beckons