Tiny beauty shop in Kuwait fills big void for troops
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Female troops walk through a nondescript wooden door at the back of a barber-and-alteration shop and walk out looking like ladies.
Sometimes the transformation is noticeable only in the attitude, other times in the untangled tresses and shining faces. Either way, the beauty shop at Arifjan makes these women “very sexy.”
Either that or “bee-you-tee- ful,” as Nisha Jamal Deen, 25, of Sri Lanka, chooses to say with a raspy, accented voice to her customers as they walk through the door. They always respond with blushed cheeks and a smile under sun-kissed skin.
Though no bigger than most storage closets at other salons — with only two cutting chairs, one sink and a five-seat waiting/manicure/pedicure area — women notice only the comforting smells of hair dye, the soothing hum of blow dryers and the relaxing sounds of snipping scissors.
“I didn’t know they had one here. When I found out, I was, like, ‘woo-hoo!’” gushed Sgt. Roxy Peterson, of the 1742nd Transportation Company, as she waited to go home after 18 months at Camp Anaconda, Iraq.
Throughout her deployment she cut her hair only once, while on Rest and Recuperation leave, at the Qatar beauty salon. This was her second chance.
With haircuts, perms, highlights, color, deep conditioners, manicures, pedicures and facials all on the menu, women say it’s easy to forget the harshness of a desert deployment, and they enjoy being spoiled.
But it’s not just women who take advantage of the salon, according to Deen, “because sometimes ... guys” come to get pampered as well.
“It sucks because [the men] have two barber shops — another also in Zone 1 on Arifjan — and we only have this,” said Spc. Lee Moses, a mechanic stationed at Camp Arifjan, pointing to two chairs, while she received a manicure. Right outside the door of the beauty salon is a barbershop that is more than four times the size of the beauty salon.
Still, women on Arifjan say it’s not the size that counts.
“This is the best thing the Army could have put here,” said Sgt. 1st Class Julie Scott, of the 1244th Transportation Company. “It brings back what some of us are used to back at home.”
Men, like Sgt. Charles Jackson, of the 233rd Transportation Company, agree.
“With more and more men, especially in the States, starting to pay attention to how their hands and feet look, the beauty shop won’t be able to serve all its customers soon,” Jackson said.
His friend, Sgt. Marlowe Williams, also of the 233rd, who gets a pedicure just about every two weeks, echoed that sentiment.
“This place definitely needs more room, and a big stereo right over there,” Williams said, pointing to a space filled with different shades of nail polish in the waiting room.
Though new stores will be sprouting up within a week in Iraq, men and women deployed to, and moving through, Kuwait will simply have to deal with the tight quarters and the simple radio that blares chick bands.
Besides, it doesn’t take too much room to feel pretty.