J-K: Beauty Bug Flies High Despite Threats
13 February 2006
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Despite threats and a campaign of hardline women's organisations to shut them down, beauty parlours here are blossoming. Housed in traditional Kashmiri houseboats on Jehlum banks, the parlours are chock-a-block with customers. The parlours have recruited staff from not only within the state but also outside to meet growing beauty needs of the valley. Sangeeta (26), who hails from a very poor family of Orrissa, is working with one of the parlors in Srinagar since the last six years. She has managed to be here in spite of initial hardships. 'This place is geographically different from mine, and weather is extremely different. And, despite threats by militant outfits, I am here because of no alternative. My family's financial condition forces me to stay here,' she says. She and her 16 colleagues, who also hail from outside J-K, are always on toes because of rush of customers. 'We open the parlour at 9 AM and hardly have any rest till 7 PM, when it is closed. Though I have to work very hard, I do not have complaints about my wages at all,' she adds. Average earning of these girls ranges from Rs 3,000 to Rs 8,000 a month. It is the case with other beauty parlours in the valley, where earnings on an average cross Rs 15,000 daily. Women of all ages come to the parlours for special beauty packages. Young college girls are ready to spend generously on beauty treatments. 'For me coming to parlour twice a month is a necessity,' says Maria Khan, a college student. 'Usually, I come for a facial and a hair cut. I also like to experiment with my hair,' she added. Beauty parlous are competing with each other to lure customers with special packages on treatments like facial and mehandi designs. These include facials in range of Rs 250 and Rs 2,500. 'We are facing a tough competition from newly established parlours. But we have already established our name,' says Gazala Gulzar, owner of Princess Beauty Parlour. 'We have invited special mehandi experts from outside the state and doing a good business,' she adds.