Yesterday, on impulse, I nipped into the local Vietnamese Nail Spa and had 'the nails done'. As the South Africans say: had a mani-pedi, doll. It was unplanned and not my usual thing, but that little spa down an alley in a low-income area of Rotterdam became the portal to a very happy, spiritual afternoon.

Now let me tell you I was operating on the tail-end of a meltdown of epic proportions. But having my nails done is a second step up the ladder of positivity, acceptance and enlightenment, so don't worry, I am getting there. This is not about my meltdown: this is about how we react to strangers and what our interactions can do for us.

Using a quest for a certain kind of Yogi tea to get away from myself I walked past the little nail spa and it was empty of clients, just the 3 Vietnamese ladies chatting and smiling because that's the way they are. I swear they are the smilingest people in the world. On a wave of rebellion against all my righteous thinking, I went in and asked to have my nails shaped and lacquered. What ensued was an afternoon of caring, sharing and uplifting. 

A lady came in and, while she had her acrylic nails repaired, she received a message that upset her greatly. Her tears alerted us and I enquired carefully into her grief. We discovered she had lost her husband 6 months earlier. I knew him long ago as an older peer of one of my sons. We shared her sorrow as she shared his picture, how he died (suicide) and the effects on her little family. When she left we embraced, a warm hug of connection. She was smiling again, albeit mistily.

Once my hands looked gorgeous, the Vietnamese ladies and I decided I deserved a pedicure AND matching toenails so into the large massage chair I went. The old layers of Chakra colours were removed and my back got a workover by a really weird, wired chair. An elderly, cross-looking lady stomped into the little salon. With a beetle-browed frown, she announced she just needed her fingernails cut and none of that other nonsense (with a pointed look in my admittedly decadent direction). I smiled sunnily and bade her a cheery good day. I was by that time slightly high on relaxation, forgotten cares and warm care-taking. (No, they don't serve mojitos or G&T's at this spa). As my treatment progressed the old lady took peeks at what was going on with me and, no surprise, she ended up in the massage chair next to me, feet in the sweet soft hands of a kind Vietnamese lady and chattering nineteen-to-the-dozen.

We discussed how much our feet do for us. I told her about my foot meditation and the hand one too. When she looked doubtful about a colour for her toenails I advised her: go for outrageous: who sees it, you deserve to have the feeling that you are worth it. I told her about my summer toenails in the Chakra colours and when I left she was discussing the Chakra's, their colours and their meanings with the ladies. Again there was a farewell hug and that connection. 


The tea shop was closed by the time I got there. But no Black Chai in the world can achieve that feeling of 'happinezz' and meaningfulness and sheer exhilaration from this kind of interaction. Everything might be temporary, but this memory will stay, reminding me that, whatever we do, if it is done with a peaceful and loving heart, we can bring comfort and a smile to the world.
And with pretty toes and fingers, I walked into a world once again changed by kind words...