Soon, without changing, I asked her to rush as it was getting late. Everywhere there were Mehndi wale Bhaiyas and at-least 5 ladies waiting to get Mehndi done per artist. Earlier, this art used to be a monopoly of ladies. But wherever mass production is involved, the profession becomes gender independent. So we also asked, 'Kitne paise and kitna time?' Mehndi wale Bhaiya replied, '1000 Rs/-, both hands i.e. 500 Rs/- per hand, dono side. And waiting time is half an hour'. I was wondering, 'almost 100 Rs/- per inch of decoration!' Though, I didn’t pour the outcome of my calculation.
We had anyway come to get Mehndi done so my wife quickly took decision and confirmed this Mehndi wale bhaiya that we are waiting. The same question was asked many times -'How many Rs/- and how much time?'- No negotiation on both parameters. Mehndi wale bhaiya was obsessed with the attention he was getting. He told everybody that he was not selling mehndi cones. Some girls, while getting their Mehndi done, were talking about the designs he does and chemicals he uses. I heard him saying, 'I have come from Indore and will return tonight.' He was asking another 100 Rs/- for every small change in design. Every now and then, he was saying, 'I'm here only for 1 more hour'.
And the scarcity of time and swarming crowd was definitely taking toll on the quality of his work. He had a good grip on Hindi and English colloquial, which he demonstrated many times. He kept us waited for 3 hours there - though he repeated, ‘just 5 minutes’, at-least 10 times.
Today, while coming to office, I had seen him sitting there and doing mehndi- still hours to go for Puja. And probably he will never go to Indore. Gurgaon has a lot to make him stay back!
- Amit Roop