So… we seem to be getting old! Oh well, Pondicherry is a pretty good place to be getting old in!
We started the day off in style with a very refined iced tea in a beautiful courtyard cafe restaurant called La Villa, where we sat and read magazines and newspapers and felt very chilled!
Then I got my hands doodled (Mehendi), Pete had offered to do this for me with a Sharpie but I politely declined the offer and said he needed to pay for me to have it done properly 😉 I’ve always wanted henna on my hands, but had mixed feelings about whether it’s a bit weird for a white girl to have it done when it’s a tradition rooted in Hindu culture. Anyway, I decided for my birthday I could overlook this!
It’s such an interesting process to watch and have done. Luckily, the woman that did it for me, Hema, spoke amazing English so we could ask her lot about it. I chose some styles of design that I liked and then Hema worked freestyle on my hands using the elements I had chosen.As it goes on it’s sort of khaki green and thick, then as it dries it goes much darker, almost black. Once it was finished it went quite hard and it was quite hard to bend my hands, plus I didn’t want to spoil it! We went for a cup of tea and some lunch and then it was time to wash/scrape it off (in a power cut) to reveal the quite bright orange underneath. I covered it in oil like she told me to help it stay longer and over the next few hours into the evening it went much darker again… now it’s almost a rich reddy brown on my fingers and a pale brown on my arms.
Here’s a gif of all the colours it has been, hope it works…
These are some of the things we learnt from Hema… the whole process is called Mehendi in Hindi, in Tamil it’s Muruthana. The paint is made from the Henna plant; the leaves are dried, then ground and filtered to a fine powder. The powder is added to a jelly made from sugar water, aloe vera, lemon and eucalyptus oil to create the ‘paint’ they put on your skin. The leaves are also used to make henna tea which cures stomach ulcers, kills intestinal worms and if you brush your teeth with it, it kills cavity pain!
The khaki colour is from the henna, any other colours that people get offered are chemicals and can be harmful. When it’s wet you can smell the herbal fragrance. Hema could tell I was hot blooded because of how quickly it dried and the colour it went! Haha, I am always warm!
Anyway, in the evening we went for a lovely walk along Pondy promenade, which is a very sociable place, and then for an incredible dinner at a restaurant called Le Club, where we had Indian starters and French mains… not many places you can do that!
Thanks very much for all the birthday messages, lots of love to you all back home xxx