Absolute champaca, 2013
Global perfumers are circling back to India for retro scents
Indian scent memory is about layering, with oils, herbs and flowers, all topped off with a fine sheen of talcum powder—or dust. We see it in miniature paintings and Bharatanatyam dance. The nayika (heroine) gets ready for her lover by having a scented bath; smearing sandal paste on her skin; lighting incense; chewing on fennel; and braiding jasmine into her hair. The south Indian avatar includes a base note of Medimix, my favourite herbal soap, and some coconut oil in the hair. If this makes us smell like a mobile “Hot Chips" shop, we are happily unaware of it. Coconut oil is hardly the siren scent to attract your beloved, but if the beloved in question is hungry, there is nothing like it to bring her or him home.