I had my nails done. It was a last minute decision. I was lucky to grasp the last opportunity of the day. The Nail Salon I went to is ran by Vietnamese. Very common in this part of the world, and an interesting resemblance with Parisian beauty salons ran by Chinese ladies. The ladies here are smiley, quick, the service is relatively good price, a simple manicure is around 25 NZD. I'm not sure if it will last very long, maybe 7-10 days (probably less if you dig in the ground planting seeds every day - promise I'll test it haha!), but considering that you get it in 30 minutes, without appointment, even just before they close the shop, with a mini hand massage included, I think it's a great choice for a spontaneous mama trying to make the most out of a little Me Time...
I started chatting with the girl while she did my nails. I'm always curious to hear different stories from around the world. She moved to NZ as a refugee. Fled from Communism in Vietnam. 1999 she said. The date shocked me, honestly, not even 20 years ago. Prior to coming here, she spent 7 years in a refugee camp with her parents on the Thai border, living in a big building like Warehouse with other people. Now she lives here with her family. Her parents in Australia...
Another guest arrived. Appointment. Her client. She excused herself politely to leave me and handed me over to her colleague who continued doing my nails. She didn't speak too much English, but she was smiling, too. She has been living here for some years, too. A third lady came to stand next to us, watching her colleague do the hand massage and the polishing. (First time someone did it in plastic gloves, probably not to have slippery hands when working, but this was very bizarre. I also realized how important is skin to skin contact for a massage...)
Back to the third lady. I'm not sure she stood there because there was no more guests and she was free, or she was in the learning process how to master a manicure, or if it was the spirit of the so called collective group work popular in some parts of Asia, I just noticed it and made me smile. While my nails were drying, the girls quickly cleaned up, changed and left me in the company of the small ventillator, my brand new polish drying. And the owner, a Vietnamese man.
We chatted for a while. He made a decision to come to NZ when he first came to visit, he liked it a lot. Now he is here for many years, running the salon. When he learned where I came from, he right away connected it with Communism and Russia. Interesting, I thought. Couldn't be more timely in October... We just had a conversation about this topic with a friend today, from a French perspective with the presidential elections coming up in France next year. Anyway, I had a feeling that not too many people asked him about his story, he seemed for a moment uncomfortable. Eventually it turned out nice. Then I paid and set free with my skyblue fingernails...
Several thoughts appeared in my head after this spontaneous visit to the Nail Salon. Mostly about what freedom means. In different parts of the world. In different contexts. For different people. At different stages of life. In relations. In our every-days...
My Nelson Encounters are full of life colourful stories about people who I met along my travels in New Zealand. Inspiring little stories with people who ended up, just like us, in one way or another, in a magical little city on the top of the South Island, Nelson.
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