Last week was the first time ever that I actually tried my hand (literally) at the art of mehndi decoration!!!! Henna has been used from the olden days as a natural coolant for the body. It stimulates blood circulation and its also used in the hair for conditioning the scalp and to restore body, bounce and colour. There was a reason why this was a custom in our country.Mehndi/henna has always been something I loved since when I was a little girl. I remember we had this lovely Henna tree , growing with slender branches in my aunt`s home in Chennai. In the summer, we would patiently pick out all the leaves that were tender and fresh, and the maid would grind it for us, in the stone mill, and collect it in to a little ball and hand it over to Amma. Amma would wait for all of us to have dinner, finish the day`s household chores, ask us to change to dark clothes, so we would`nt stain our dresses with the dye in the henna.
All of us cousins would be extremely excited that it was going to be mehndi night. That meant that we were all going to sleep together in the living room, under the gentle breeze from the fan, stretched out lazily on straw mats. We could chat all night about the whole school year, about our friends, annual day functions, studies, excursions, music lessons, card games,latest books read, anything and everything under the sun that had been kept untold throught the whole school year. Those were of course the days before the cell phones, e-mails and extreme telecom fixation. Cousins would take time off to write to each other and tell each other about their small and interesting lives…Mums would be happy and encourage the kids….It was a slower life, much more enjoyable, with hardly any time for TV or Nintendo…..And yes, those were the best days of my life….
These days as I watch the precision and creativity that has crept in to this beautiful art of mehndi application, there has always been a side of me that wanted to try it out. On my recent Chicago trip, I found a good brand of Mehndi at Patel`s and set about making my own little cone. I spliced a small Ziploc cover(1/2 Gallon) and split it in to two parts. I rolled it in to a small cone, sealed it with cello tape and filled it with mehndi paste from the bigger cone. After removing all the air I gently sealed the edges with a thin rubber band. Splicing a teeny weeny hole in the end, my mini cone was ready for trial. I opened my palm and allowed the lines to flow as they wished. With the right consistency of fresh paste and the right size of the aperture, the lines flowed, smooth and easy. It was far easier than holding an awkward store bought cone and trying to be creative. I was happy with the results, at least with my maiden attempt. I also attempted on my daughter S and she loved it!!! It`s more of a longing now, to try and be better, more creative, better lines, better clarity and overall a highly satisfactory feeling. I know I have a long long way to go, but just the smile on my daughter`s face as I tucked her in that night….and my day was made!!!