15.5.13

That One Time I Dyed My Eyebrows Black While The Girls Danced Around Me

So many good things have happened the past few days.
So so good.
But by good, I mean incredibly funny but not actually good.
I swear, embarrassing/absurd/hilarious experiences are drawn to me. I think I attract them. Maybe its my breath?
I don't know.
Let's start from the most recent. Chronological order is for squares.
So on Sunday, Sara went with one of the girl students to a beauty salon in Gabal to get her eyebrows threaded. Now, I had no clue that there were even any beauty salon-esq places in the area. We live in essentially a third-world city, and I know there is a barber shop nearby, but I've never seen a place for women to go.
Apparently there is one. It is very well hidden, although after having been there I think I might understand why.
There is one common feature I've noticed about all of the women here in Egypt: absolutely perfect eyebrows.  Seriously, they all have them. Perfectly shaped, perfect thickness, just the right color. I have been amazed by it considering how natural it seems while I try so hard to get mine to look half as good.
So hearing about this place in Gabal, I decided to get in on the party. I figure, if they all make their eyebrows look that perfect, that could fix mine up too. Besides, if they ruin them, I already have an appointment for when I get back to the states haha.
Now, to be clear, I care a lot about my eyebrows.
A lot, a lot.
They are kind of one of my things.
You know, a thing?
Those "things" everybody has and care about a bit more than is seemingly normal, and might even be a bit strange or ridiculous.
Yeah. Eyebrows are those for me. I have drawn diagrams of what is appropriate and what is not for eyebrows for... way too many people. Not joking.
I am meticulous about eyebrows. And I find myself analyzing them more often than a normal person should. Because they are responsible for a major part of expressing emotion on your face!
Ok. Enough about me and my eyebrow thing.
So, after Sara went on Sunday and came back with perfect new eyebrows, I made the decision to go. I asked her to escort me to the salon, and we grabbed another Egyptian student to translate for us, and we were off.
So, when they do eyebrows here, they do threading. Which is a magical knot-esq loop in a piece of thread they use to wrap around groups of hairs and yank out. I've never done threading before, but I understand the process.
When Sara went on Sunday, the girls were so excited. We are the only Americans for many miles, and they were fighting over who would do her eyebrows. They ended up threading her brows, but they begged to thread the rest of her "hairy" face as well, to which she complied. They desperately wanted to dye her eyebrows too, but she denied that request.
I'm kind of up for anything.
So when we approached a little hole-in-the-wall beauty shop covered in massive photoshopped images of girls with white makeup on, I wasn't the least bit daunted.
Nor was I when a bubbling seventeen year-old girl and her friend, the two salon employees, came and grabbed us and began twittering over us like we were pets.
"Here. Sit," they said, as they pointed to a rusty metal salon chair. Sure, why not.
I took a seat as one girl came giggling over to look at my face. Soon enough, two more ladies a bit older came in from the street carrying a glass of orange juice.
Communal orange juice, apparently.
They each took a few gulps, and passed the cup to me.
"Ashrub!" "Drink!" They said to me in Arabic. I don't know what face I made, but they laughed at it. Drink, drink! They insisted. So... why not. I love germs. Took a gulp, passed it to Sara, who I think managed to get out of sharing.
The girls grouped and began twittering about us again, flitting from one side to the other of the tiny 10x10 foot room, grabbing assorted salon items.
One of them came up to me, and stood, staring at my face, from perhaps four inches away. Now, I realize that there is less of a personal space bubble in this culture, but that seemed pretty close.
The other girl started laughing in Arabic, and through giggles said something in Arabic.
"Kiss her," my student translator said.
Kiss her? Ok..
Here, like in Europe, a customary greeting is the mock-kiss on the cheek. But instead of two, it is anywhere (with no consistency)  between 4-9. Yep, and I never know how many they expect. The best rule is to just let them lead out.
So I moved my face a bit closer, hoping she would do the rest. haha
She did, but did the faux-peck not quite on the cheek, but rather just past the mouth on either side, and five times.
Whew. Good thing I keep cool in awkward conversations. Like when a strange girl tells you to kiss her.
Then they eyebrows came.
My little seventeen year old friend, who is one of the most bubbly silly people I think I've ever encountered, came up and grabbed my face with one hand, while with the other she grabbed a spool of thread and wrapped the end around her finger and in her mouth. And began the process.
Now, you would assume that as it is the same process no matter what, the pulling of hairs from the face would be equally painful no matter how you do it.
Wrong.
Somehow, threading is like three times more painful than waxing.
Don't ask me how or why. It just is.
She was incredibly speedy too. Which, given the pain, is probably a good thing.
Two minutes later, and it was all finished.
I look in the mirror. Boom! Perfect Egyptian eyebrows. Seriously though, how do they do that? I'm still impressed.
"Wishic kamen?" "Your face too?" they asked. What the heck, why not. She did such a good job on my brows, I'm sure my peach fuzz and soul patch could be taken care of too.
So she pushed my head to the size, grabbed a new piece of thread, and started at it again.
You know, I should have expected it after the eyebrows, but seriously! SO painful. I don't understand how a little piece of string could hurt so bad.
She went at it for a few minutes, then a pause.
Mutters in Arabic. "She says your face is too hairy. Do you want to wax it instead?"
hahaha. Of course my face is too hairy. So, wax.
I've heard and witnessed horror stories about waxing off strips of skin because it was too hot, but I figured, "hey, my nurse is with me. She knows how to treat burns."
I disregard good judgment occasionally.
"Yeah, sure, she can wax it."
No worries, no burns were suffered in the process.
Also, much less painful than threading.
You know what?
My face feels like a baby that was just dipped in massage oil.
I don't know why that would happen, but that's what I feel like.
I'm so soft and smooth! Who knew it was possible. It's like I've been saving up facial hair for years, just to get it waxed and feel this soft. I might even do it again.
During this entire process, the three other Egyptian girls as well as Sara and our student were sitting next to me, chatting and laughing loudly in Arabic.
It's almost impossible to tell if they were making fun of us, or super pleased with us. So I'm just going to assume the latter, because it's better for my self esteem.
They chatted some more, and then my translator asked me "do you want a mask?"
Ooh, a whole spa day! Threaded eyebrows, waxed face, and now a mask?
"Sure! Why not."
My girl came over with a mysterious tube full of a clear gel that smelled reminiscent of acetone, and began to smear it across my face.
She was a bit careless with it, haha. On the lips, in the nose and hairline. Oh, and all over my shirt. Didn't bother to clean it up; my shirt probably needed the mask too anyways.
It was a peel-off mask, and needed time to set. Oh, the waiting game.
Sara and I sat, awkwardly trying not to draw too much more attention than we already had, as they continued to chat in Arabic.
"You want your eyebrows dyed too?" my student translated for them.
I'm on a roll. I really don't see a reason to stop now. I gave my consent, and my girl excitedly came over to complete the color change.
"Brown or black?" Hm. Definitely brown.
She went to get the dye - a small half-dried pile of liquid dye laying on an old lid on a dusty shelf.
Perfect.
She used a match to dip in the dye and smear across my eyebrows. At this point Sara is laughing hysterically at the entire process of it all.
I'm not really sure how, but I definitely convinced Sara she should join in on the party too.
"Heya eyza kamen" "She wants it too" I told them.
She finished applying it on me and then asked Sara and I to trade seats, and repeated the technique on her.
I had yet to see in a mirror what my face looked like, but based on Sara's laughter I could only guess. Ha! Two can play that game. When our girl finished with the old dye and matchstick, Sara turned to me.
We looked like clowns.
We had those big, blocky, drawn-on eyebrows that looked almost black because of the dye.
There wasn't much time to laugh at our predicament, because next thing we knew the girls turned up some Arabic dance music and started bellydancing in the middle of the salon. Meaning they started dancing four feet away from us.
Now, we've experienced some of the bellydancing the girls are capable of in the dorms, but these girls were so good. They vibrate their whole body from the waist down, while their torso barely moves. I'm seriously impressed.
All of the girls were Muslim, but they seemed to be more comfortable and took off their headscarves and were showing us their hair. They were all incredibly beautiful, albeit young. One was telling us how she was engaged to be married in December of next year, and how she wants us to go to her wedding.
The chatting didn't last long, because soon enough they were back dancing again, and wanting us to join.
They would come grab our hands, shouting "come! come!" in Arabic.
We tried to warn them. We don't know how to dance. We are white Americans, and it shows.
They just didn't believe us.
Sara and I did one hip shake, before the entire group burst into raucous laughter.
They didn't object when we sat down. hahaha
After a total of about fifteen minutes (although the clock was not monitored), our girl finished her dancing and decided our brows were finished as well. She grabbed a cotton ball, and with one swoop on each eyebrow, wiped off ("off") the dye on each of us.
We turned to the mirror.
I leaned over to Sara, and whispered "Hey Sara, remember that one time we dyed our eyebrows black while the girls danced around us?"
bahahaha! Our eyebrows!
Massive blocks of color.
Don't you worry, I got photo documentation.


After promptly returning home and giving our faces and brows a vigorous scrub, we managed to return them to a more normal shade and shape.
Now, actually, I think I have the best eyebrows I've ever had. So thank you Gabal girl, you used your magical Egyptian Eyebrow powers to make mine beautiful too!

So, every year, the Student Missionaries have a tradition.
Locally in Egypt, photos are kind of a big thing. But the shops you go to get your pictures taken are incredibly cheesy. You essentially get placed in front of a drop cloth that acts as a green screen, and then fake images are edited in as the background.
So fantastic. So so good. Because they are the ultimate of cheesy pictures.
So anyways, it is tradition. Every year all of the SM's get group photos taken at a local photography shop in Gabal.
We give the photographer ultimate control to allow for the most "natural" of poses. He moves and places us, as well as chooses all background images and photoshop editing.
On that note - they make all people in pictures look like angels. haha. They make your skin look several shades lighter, super smooth, and all glow-y like you're a doll. It is hilarious.
So last Friday, we all went to get ours taken.
I don't think they need much explanation to understand the greatness they envelope.
Enjoy!













In just about three weeks, my father will be coming to visit and I'm absolutely ecstatic! It's been too long since I've seen him - well, since Christmas - and I miss him lots. We will be spending around a week in Cairo for graduation and sight-seeing, and then will be taking a three day trip to Petra, Jordan and then spending a day visiting friends in Berlin, Germany!
I. Can't. Wait. EEP!
One month exactly from today, I'll be heading home. Crazy to think about!
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