Thursday 5 April 2012: henna
Spent an hour or so in a wonderful Indian provisions shop in Vic Park today.
A waft of spiced air at the door step,a Bollywood soundtrack and take away samosas, orangy, sugary pastries and crackly cellophane bags of sari coloured balls, fennel seeds with shreds of silver.
Then it's the shelves of pots and tins of winged bean pieces and bitter gourd slices and pots and jars of tamarind and pineapple jam, jackfruit and cho cho marrow pickles and yogi teas. Tucked away on the'medicinal' shelves are paper pouched bottles of 'celebrated' gripe water and happy faced labelled containers of ayurvedic compounds.
Onto the 'health and beauty' with boxed stacks of sandalwood and jasmine soaps, neem toothpaste, nourishing hair creams and these boxes of henna powder. From the henna tree Lawsonia inermis, the leaves are crushed and milled and used to dye hair, fingernails, leather, wool and skin.
Some friends and I bought henna powder years ago in an attempt to replicate the fine and delicate patterns 'tattooed' onto hands and feet long used as a celebration of festivals and marriages. As instructed we mixed the powder with a tea and lemon juice brew and popped it into a fine nozzled icing cone.
Unlike those fantastic designs, ours ended up like a secret morse code of dots and dashes and as henna LASTS for ages on the skin, as it eventually faded away we all looked as if we were recovering from some skin lurgy.