Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Double espresso please

"How would you like that served sir, how many sugars"? The waiter asked and paused, waiting for a reply. I paused and looked at him and did not let my frustrations show; “ no sugar please” I answered and the waiter moved on. How should a double espresso be served I thought, is there any other way of serving a double espresso? At that moment I had a premonition which became true as the events unfolded, the waiter brought my espresso in a big coffee cup.

There is a tiny café in Marrakesh that serves the best espresso ever. It was in the early hours of the morning and keen to get some sun and wear my plaid Tommy Hilfiger shorts I had bought the day before I headed for the streets of Marrakesh. Before long I had found a perfect spot at the corner of the café with a wide view of the walking traffic outside. A peculiar hobby I picked up on sometime, I reckoned if bird watching can be a sport then people watching must have superior intended benefits. I opened my vanity fair and picked on a story I had slept on the night before.

The café had the attended displays and decorations of all Moroccan splendour with a heavy savory aroma of roasted coffee beans. I knew I was in the right place. Music was playing in the background, almost drowned in the hollowness of the wooden floors but enough to have a distinct rhythm and rhyme. Like wolves howling, tearing apart the stillness of the night, the sound system  clearly playing a record vinyl crackled and howled reggae dub beat. The slow rhythmic thud and echo of every sentence heard was enough to have my heart pounce in a tizzy and in absentia nod my head in unison to the hypnotic, slurred melody. I made note of the song it was Outkast classic SpottieOttieDopalicious and momentarily stopped reading as I became engulfed in the moment.

My double espresso came, in the right little espresso mug, the handle hole not even big enough to fit my index finger. With my espresso came a complementary dark chocolate tab. I put down my magazine, sipped the very hot liquid and made a bite of my chocolate. The sound knocking on my eardrums I remained engrossed in this meandering and teasing delirium.

It was not just me in selfish delight, fellow patrons in conversations or reading the daily newspaper  like regulars were and in adulation of the establishment. I noticed two rascals with their mother feverishly poking her and demanding something, like marijuana junkies impatient for a spiff. The mother seems to abide and offers the rascals their due and in turn the kids were smugly content.  I became curious and asked the waiter if I too could have my due. Soon enough I was chewing on these succulent caramel palm dates with my second espresso and soon enough was namby pamby.

After a while I paid my dues and thought of the day ahead. It was the best way to spend the morning and vitalise before a photo shoot in Marrakesh. 

But today, far from Marrakesh I got served an espresso only in name. What I expected came to naught and instead of vitality I got agitated, ruining the rest of my day. Oh well at least I had my ipod in hand. I drew a money note from my money clip and nicely placed it on the table. Picked up my novel, stood up gently placing my ear phones in the right ear and my finger tapped play. Outkast was my only redemption.

Friday, 1 April 2011

The delightful perfume

Little by way of small joy is enjoyed in this tumulus world than the whiff and engulfment of perfume. Of all the wars, warts and all, the only war I will fight for is for the girl that smells just right. You have met her before, she stood next to you and you turned. She walked past you and immediately followed her path. Infatuated with the odours, the nostrils gapping for more and the heart in dalliance purely because of scent.

I am hay feverish, so too much and too strong will make me sneeze in disgust. Too little and too generic will make me easily forget-or remind me of my grandmother’s soap. Just right and it will be recorded in my memoirs.

Is it not a funny state of encumbrance that of all disabilities, the sense of smell is the least suffered? Yet so true indeed that it’s the least put to use. How can this state of affairs be fair? God hath blessed to perfection this singular strength as the great source for mating decision. The nose is an instrument as powerful as a doctor’s stethoscope yet it’s sparingly used. 

Not mine, I relish in being mesmerised by fragrance on a woman. It sets me off in a reverie of memories of sunset’s cruises, beach strolls on white sandy plains or picking a basket of fruits from an orchard. It reminds me of my teenage flirtations with the giggly prettiest of pretty girls on a purple Jacaranda laden street at the tail end of Spring, when the heavens opened and the first drops of wetness drenched her white blouse.
The smell of the first rains, the sight of firm breasts still defiant of gravity pressing against the blouse- almost popping out. A painter could very well put on canvass this moment, capture the hues and make still the expressions of adulation. For me, all this can be captured in a scent.

Do not confuse my musings for a hearty romantic, which is not the case. Rather it’s remembering the vigour, vitality and eagerness of youth in play with nature and fondling the weather. To encapsulate this moment in a 100ml bottle is magical.

It is not my youth that is poignantly bottled as fragrance, it is also particular sceneries. I remember my first time being in the Serengeti. Dry Savannah prairie, that stretches forever. The air is still and dry and the heat scourging. The mirage makes one dizzy and the moment like no other.  No semblance of life around, until the evening and camping under the stars, the sounds of the darkness are heightened and trepidation fills the air. Perfume, in my opinion has the same effect on a woman, serene during the day before making her vibrant for the evening.

Sometimes, a perfume or a scent can capture a period in history well. At times I wonder what the 20’s were like, or what society was like during the Victorian era. Like music I believe scents do have their periods. This is what inspired perfumes like chanel’s No 5 to capture a period in history and all that was glorious at the time. I must hasten to add that the best scents are made more of natural ingredients and its best to avoid any scent named after a celebrity. Celebrities are fleeting and so are their associated fragrances. For more, a good read is Essence and Alchemy

It’s really fascinating that perfume and the use of fragrance became a routine chore before bathing was done regularly.  Back then perfume could cover the stench from not bathing, today perfume bares all in a woman. From her sense of erotica –is she playful, intense, sensual, easy to please, mundane, does not care to her sense of well being-personality, caring, aesthetics, branding  and desires.

Given the many prospects perfume has, why is little attention paid to citrus, musky, sandalwood, woody, honey, fruity   inspirations that a wearer immediately assumes. More attention is given to fake hair and extensions, make-up (that is to literally make up something were there is deficiency) and stiletto for posture. I have my qualms with the hair and make-up and in the least stilettos but I find it redundant when a woman pays little attention to her true box of charm-perfume.  Is it not true, that after a girl is gone the only thing a guy is left with is the girl’s fragrance still enamoured on his sheets.(of course the fake hair has its fair share of count-much to the disdain of every gentleman). Indeed the fragrance is the only unforgettable thing. Quite shameful then if it’s Elizabeth Aden that I get to content with.

Years ago when nobility was still in fashion, the Nobles would bath in scented waters with scented hand made soap, scented candles and burn incense acquired from faraway travels. This ritual made it easy to distinguish the nobles as they strolled in the market place. The three kings brought gifts of luxury to the new born son of man, myrrh-fine scent oils, Frankincense- incense and Gold. We are told these were wise men. I concur. Nothing distinguishes one as they stroll along in today’s’ society than wisdom and one’s scent.

What I remember most from the girl at the parking lot coin machine in Sandton, the girl buying a Baguette along St Germaine in Paris, the girl at the airport check-in at Heathrow, the lady I sat next to at the charity dinner in Harare, is unadulterated, unflinching doses of delightfully perfect fragrance. Subtle and kind to the noise, gentle capsules of an aesthete, vivid nuances of personalities of the wearer, vibrant aroma and alluring zest.  Enchanting notes of elegance, entreating charm and the staid countenance made me remember long after the encounters.

The encounter was brief but the whiff lingered longer and brought with it all sorts of permutations in my head. Primarily why this little joy can never be enjoyed longer and shared amongst all mortals. Alas, it’s enough to keep me happy for another day.