A moment of terror followed by a ray of sunshine

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Posted by Lauren on August 27, 2002 at 02:42:16:

I went to Drums Around The World Amherst this past weekend and did
really crummy business. Last year's crowd filled the field, while
this year's crowd wasn't even a quarter of that at the most, and
hardly anyone showed on Saturday due to the weather. Yuck.
Still, there I was in my lovely new salwar kameez, hennaing happily.
I had quite a few Indian folks walk by. One was a little old lady in
a gorgeous sari. I said Hi, she kept walking. Darn. Then this
Indian woman about my age comes up and starts looking through my
books. She asks me if I do the designs exactly as they are in the
books. I say "I do them mostly as they are, but of course I
improvise a bit." I'm thinking she wants to see if I'm just a copy
artist or can I actually spin it out of my head. She points to a
picture of my earlier work and says "Can you do this one exactly? I
like this one, but it is not worth ten dollars, right?" I guess she
had heard me tell someone else that my designs start at about ten.
Still, the way she put it put me on the defensive right off. I
say "No, that one is fifteen." It's a not-terribly-complex design
but one with lots of fiddly little work and it has finger stuff. She
says "I'm from India and I know how much these things cost. I'll
give you ten dollars." Now I'm thinking of all those cheapskates and
rude women from India that the Forum keeps encountering and I'm not
sure that I want to be putting my designs on someone who's going to
be nasty about it. I stick to my guns "Well, that design usually
costs fifteen." She looks at it, then at me, then at it, and
says "Okay, I don't get what I want, and you don't get what you
want. I'll give you twelve." At this moment I realize that she's
not being rude, she's bargaining with a merchant in a souk stall, or
whatever the Indian equivalent is. I also realize that I don't know
of any other artists in the area and at the end of this henna I get
to give her my business card to spread to her local
community. "Done".
Then I remember more about how the Forum posts said many ethnic
people will casually tell you what to do and how to do it and never
be satisfied, and she says as she sits that she came back from India
two months ago and had henna done there and I'm scared all over
again, but set to it...
And after I get half the design done, she starts calling people over
to look at what I'm doing. She says "Will you look at these tiny
lines! How exact she is! I love this pattern, it's SO pretty!" She
had her friend take a picture of me working on her. She was so very
happy with design and I was just floating that I'd managed to impress
someone who would know better. I hope I hear from her again, and I
hope she got a rockin' stain. I did tell her about my selling henna
supplies, so that could also lead places.
The weekend was a flop, but I am so much more relaxed about doing
this upcoming wedding now that I've had the opposite experience of
what was posted earlier.
I also remember doing the original design and how hard it was and how
long it took, and how easy it was for me this weekend. Makes me feel
good to have actual evidence of how far I've come.


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