Ninja henna

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Posted by jessica on August 23, 2002 at 20:53:30:

In reply to: Snappy comebacks to clients who want to teach you henna posted by Kenzi on August 23, 2002 at 15:24:57:

We have been having this happen more and more frequently. It seems to
be a double sided knife kind of thing. For years when we were out
hennaing and folks from the ethnic henna regions were around the
women would sit on the curb across from us and stare. Or if they were
more friendly would stand 15-20 feet away in a large group and stare.
Never smile, never talk, just stare. THis year at each event these
women have been approaching us and talking a little. They must
be used to us...?
The conversation is always a variation on the theme. I do henna or My
wife does henna let her show you how it's done. On several occasions
they have wrestled a cone away and applied henna on my moms(booth
supervisor) hands. It has ALWAYS been abominable!!!!! They are very
fast and seem to be judging our speed to theirs. They are the clear
winners each time and seem smug that they've shown us how it's done.
Nevermind that we are inevitably left with a pile of mud on the hand
till we're sure they've gone so it can be removed.
Despite the tell tale blobs they've inflicted they seem to give us
passing aproval once they've checked everything out and made sure we
are doing it 'right'. Using cones, leaving henna on the skin,
spraying with lemon - that usually pleases. We are always however
given information on how to do henna properly.
My auntie puts tea in her mix, you should really do that.
Did you rub eucalyptus on the skin first?! On and on....
I try to strike a balance, oh yes we put tea in our mix to make it
stong (one response assuring them they're right, whether it's true or
Second response I inevitably say no I don't do that , i do it this
way, its better. So I try to me negative once, give them a
concillation answer so they can know it best and then just keep
nodding and smiling really big, Oh really, yes I'll have to try that
thank you. Glad to know Kenzi we aren't the only ones dealing with
this . It's annoying and upsetting, there is just something that is
not crossing a cultural rift here and it makes for awkward and
uncomfortable exchanges.

I have a secondary problem though. This summer at several events we
were very, very busy with 4-5 people working and the ethnic womens
husbands approached us and wanted to offer the services of the wife
or daughters. They are really good at mehndi and you're busy so
they'll help you.
Though I'm flattered that these folks are feeling comfortable enough
to want to work with us I still have more than a pang about it. It
often feelslike there is an insinuation that they should be making
the money since they really know what they're doing, not us. Or if we
were better the line would move faster, not withstanding the 3 of us
hennaing with the rapid 3 minutes per person we average!

They were really persistent... So - how do we say no, remain friendly
and open without saying absolutely I cannot have stranger working
here under my name applying what is supposed to be quality,
consistent designs from my binder.Your designs are not okay here -
seems to be super insulting but the truth. And besides, I have
resevations about you being friendly and comforting with my customers.

So- phew, though it's better that we are having some communication
open up, it's certainly not the type I prefer. And I certainly am not
sure how to graciously tell them "nope,thanks though."
ANy suggestion or insight?? ANy one else had this ninja henna
experience with the ethnic ladies???

entioned, in a response to Alissa, about someone
: coming to my booth and telling me how to do henna. I get this at
: least once every event. It is usually a woman from a
: henna-using country (I won't name names of countries, but there
: is a trend centered around 2-3 countries of a particular region)
: and she watches me working for a few minutes and then pipes
: in with something like "you know that if you wash that off right
: away it will come out darker" (that was the latest), "you have to
: mix the henna with lemon juice to get a dark stain" etc. etc.
obviously a professional artist and tell her the basics of henna
: as if they think the artist overlooked these basic facts! What is
: going on in their heads?


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