I usually keep several notebooks in my bag to jot down any thoughts or observations. Smelling blooming black locust treea–its flowers smell like jasmine, Indian incense and coconut water–next to a bakery makes me wonder if a toasted hazelnut note would work with a creamy jasmine note and which perfume on the market has done it already. So, into my notebook it goes. I taste a tart juice made from beets, pineapple and lime and think that it would make a refreshing sorbet. I write it down. Lately, I’ve added my camera to the things I carry around with me–my arms are going to be nice and toned by the end of the year! Using a camera to see the world around reveals a whole new dimension, and I find it fun to capture the moment. So, I’ve decided to supplement my usual weekend scented observations and discoveries with my photographs.
photos: 4 posts
A path leading up to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Cherry Esplanade opens up on a fairy tale view of graceful alleys. With its soft greens and pinks, the wide expanse looks as if it could have been painted either by Monet or by a 19th century Japanese artist. Under the cherry tree canopy, which is so thick with blossoms that you catch only glimpses of the sky, the light is caressing and delicate. Suddenly I feel that I need a floaty chiffon dress and a wreath of wild flowers in my hair to properly fit into this sylvan setting. Plenty of girls around me are doing just that and strike nymph-like poses to be captured on film. When the gusts of wind grow stronger, you have a sensation of being inside a snow globe, except instead of snowflakes, you feel the brush of pink petals against your cheeks.
Kerala, the southernmost state in India, has many names. The locals call their land “God’s Own Country.” After crowded, dusty Mumbai, Kerala indeed seems like a paradise to me, a land of lacy, cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, misty lagoons and lakes, verdant rice paddies, tea and cardamom plantations, white temples and churches. Even Malayalam, the most widespread language in the region, sounds unusual to me—mellifluous and nasal, fast-paced and caressing. While I can grasp the rudiments of Hindi and Marathi, Malayalam is completely new to my ears. To be confronted with something so exotic and unusual after what I thought was a good introduction to India over the course of my numerous trips underscores the richness of discoveries this country holds. As my stay in Kerala unfolds, I find that not only are its sounds completely new to me, but also its scents, tastes, and sights. Just like everywhere in India, it is a kaleidoscope of sensory impressions.
Thinking about 2008, I immediately reflect on the olfactive impressions I collected over the course of the year. Sure, I had a chance to smell many interesting new launches and revisit old favorites, but the dominating memories of 2008 that made it a special year for me are not necessarily found in the bottle. They are the scents I found as I traveled, as I worked on new combinations of notes, as I cooked at home and danced at my ballet studio. I wanted to capture these memories to share them with you, therefore my list below will present my olfactive highlights of 2008, along with the photographs I took.
India: Weddings in India are indelibly linked to the ritual of mehndi, the application of henna paste in order to form designs on the hands and feet. The scent of henna with its soft leather and warm hay notes clings to the skin for days, if not weeks, as the henna stain wears off. Beautiful soothing aroma.