Not Your Average Nose Piercing Story
The Idea That Spread
Nose and ear piercings are a common sight in India. A few days after our arrival, Jenny said she wanted to get her nose done while we were here. That Jenny is a smart one, always full of good ideas :) After some consideration and talking to both my parents (dad said he thought it would be cute, mom wasn’t too thrilled about the idea, but she didn’t say no) I decided to get mine done as well. I’d wanted to get my nose pierced for a few years, and I thought getting it done in India would make a unique story. Ha! Understatement of the year! Getting my nose pierced in India turned out to be more of an adventure than even I expected.
Jenny Paves the Way
Jenny got her nose pierced a few days before I did. This worked out rather well because, even though I wasn’t there to see hers done, she could give me the “inside scoop” of having my nose pierced in India. Things I learned from Jenny:
1. Do not get your nose pierced using a piercing gun. Although Jenny had hers done this way, she later discovered that the gun could damage the cartilage in your nose and was therefore discouraged. The gun also made Jenny’s nose ring painfully tight, and she had to use pliers to get it off.
2. If possible, get a nose ring that has a hook rather than a screw on end. The screw on kind is very difficult to get on and off.
3. Make sure the needle is clean! It seems elementary, but India’s piercing standards aren’t quite as high as they are at home.
4. Getting your nose pierced doesn’t hurt that bad. I’d been told by my mother (who has freakishly high pain tolerance) that getting your nose pierced was incredibly painful. I’m beginning to think that was just a scare tactic. Thanks mom.
The Search is ON!
And so the search began for a place where I could get my nose pierced. Asking around, we soon discovered that most places either didn’t do it, or they used a gun. We found one place that pierced with a needle, but the guy who did the piercing was on a break for an indefinite amount of time. After searching many jewelry shops the kids were getting restless, so everyone but Teresa and I went back to the hotel. After they left, Teresa and I went into a shop that had a nice little stud for a good price; unfortunately they didn’t do piercings. Oh well, we figured we could just buy it and go back to the other shop. Once we purchased the nose ring, though, the man that ran the shop said they could show us where to get the piercing done.
I honestly thought they were just going to take us back to the shop we had planned to go to- the man we were following started out in that direction. Then we took an unexpected turn up a narrow alleyway, and then another. Teresa and I began to joke about where this guy was taking us, and about how we had forgotten to check the sketchy alleyways for a place to get my nose pierced ;)
Nose Piercers… or Organ Harvesters?
We arrived at a darkly lit room, where two men were sitting in a corner surrounded by tools. I looked at Teresa and we both started laughing. I was either going to get my nose pierced, or (based on all the tools surrounding the men) have my organs harvested. “Do you do nose piercings?” we asked them, miming “nose piercing” as best we could. Another man showed up out of nowhere that spoke English, and after some discussion we handed over the recently purchased nose stud to the man in the corner so he could prep it for insertion. “You clean the needle, right?” Teresa tried to ask. “You clean it? Sterilize? We’ll see you clean it?” After some confused conversation, we came to the conclusion that they did clean the needle, by either burning it our using alcohol. Once the stud was ready for insertion, they rinsed it in a clear liquid that I gathered was the alcohol.
The man sat down on a bench and patted the spot next to him, motioning for me to sit down. Well, this was it. I sat down, ready to get it over with. “Don’t you want to mark the spot where you want it?” Teresa asked. Yes! I jumped up, was handed a pen, and Teresa and I consulted a mirror that happened to be in the corner to find the right spot for my nose piercing. I sat back down, pointing out the blue spot on my nose to the man that was going to be piercing it. “Here, ok? Right here!” Hoping he understood, I braced myself for what was to come. Looking up nervously at Teresa, who was filming the event, I noticed that 6 or 7 men had come out of nowhere. I now had a small crowd, consisting of Teresa and Indian men, watching my every move. One of them pulled out his phone and was eagerly taking pictures. I laughed, taking in the strangeness of the situation. My face was then taken hold of and moved into position, and the fun began.
I closed my eyes in a combined effort to block out what was going on and to try to hold back any tears that might sprout up. I felt pressure on my nose. Pressure, pressure, pressure, I waited expectantly for the painful breaking of skin, but it never came. The hands that were steadying my face and nose disappeared and I looked around, slightly bewildered. “It’s in? That was it?!” The men all laughed as I broke out in a huge smile, pleasantly surprised at the lack of pain involved and that it was over so quickly!
After that was a blur. He nimbly screwed the back piece in, although not all the way. I was then pulled in to a strangling hug by the man who did the piercing, while picture after picture was taken by his buddies. The man seemed very pleased with himself; apparently it’s not every day that he gets to pierce tourists’ noses! We left the man with a tip and headed back onto the main street.
All’s Well That Ends Well
Except for the first day, when I accidentally unscrewed the bottom of the stud while trying to tighten it (apparently righty-tighty lefty-loosey isn’t international) and spent an hour in front of the mirror trying to screw it back in, I’ve had no problems with my nose piercing. My nose is currently healing well :)