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Amanda: Nose piercing

April 21, 2011

About five weeks ago I made the decision, somewhat rashly, to do something I never imagined myself doing:  I decided to get my nose pierced. 

In the US, nose piercings are edgy, but in India, nose piercings are very culturally accepted and almost as much of an inherent element of feminine beauty as the red bindi women mark their foreheads with.  My decision to get my nose pierced was based partly on my ever-increasing love affair with India, and partly on my obsession with a certain flower-shaped nose ring Indian women in Rajasthan (the state I’ve lived in) choose to wear.  Jewelry + India + Flowers = How could I resist?

On a quest to do the deed, I joined my friends Gretchen and Jezelle (who also chose to pierce their noses) to find the perfect jewelry store.  We were searching for a store that:

A) Could pierce our noses and sell us jewelry at the same time
B) Wouldn’t cheat us because we were foreigners
C) Would be somewhat legitimate and sterile

Lo an behold, in the middle of Raja Park (a shopping scheme in Jaipur), we discovered Jain Jewelers.  For 800 rupees (about 16 USD), a man marked the perfect spot on my left nostril for the piercing, dunked a multi-colored flower-shaped 18 karat gold nose ring of my choice into a pool of mustard seed oil (a form of sterilization in India), sharpened the edge of aforementioned ring, and began the process of piercing my nose. 

No needle, just the force of a very sharp nose ring and a 40 year-old man’s grip on a pair of pliers was enough to do the trick.  While the act wasn’t as painful as the time the nurse practitioner at PC shoved a Q-tip up my nose to test me for the flu, I will admit, pain inflicted so closely to my nasal passages caused a few tears.

Despite these tears, I have to confess, I love the finished product on me.  On several occasions, Indian women have told me that because of my nose ring, I look like an Indian woman too.  Can you really fit in to a culture more than that?

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