Thursday, 27 May 2010

Le parfum du Maharajah de Kapurthala

part II
(part I to be found here)

There's a technical issue with vintage perfumes. For some reason, at the first sniff, they tend to smell weirdly and pungently citrusy - I don't really believe that all of them contain a bucketful of neroli, petitgrain and whoknowswhat aldehydes. It needs quite a considerable time to decipher a really old fragrance, at least that's what my experience says.

I kept wearing Le Parfum du Maharajah de Kapurthala for three days in a row. I expected an oriental. Cinnamon, sandalwood, something like that. The odd citrusy top notes didn't fit into this preconceived idea, possibly introduced by earlier testing of Route Mandarine so I was somewhat disappointed. Not for long, upon closer scrutiny, that neroli, along with carnation and possibly rose developed into a lush green accord and I started to purr because it was a a thing of pure beauty. It only takes a while and the fragrance shifts elsewhere, to spicy floral accord (pepper, ylang-ylang, jasmine, some such). At this point, the whole thing could remain a lovely green floral but it is a true chameleon, changing to... wonderful soft leather.
I'm still learning to understand leather fragrances and I probably started from the tougher end, I really like leather scents which are so pungent that they make paint flake off. The realm of the less aggressive ones is yet to be explored but after a short flirt with Guerlain's Derby (okay, I would be glad if someone gave me a bottle but when I run out of my sample, I won't regret) or the famous Knize Ten (just fine but where's the leather? It's chewing gum and a hint of spices...), I was left rather surprised by the tendency towards blah. Until now.

Le parfum du Maharajah de Kapurthala is one of the great abstractions - a few ingredients can be guessed. And every time I try, I find something different, just now I opened the bottle and it was all cinnamon, vanilla and pepper. Great olfactory toy, I would say.

This perfume is long discontinued and hard to find so I'm afraid you have to trust me on the description. I at least threw in more pictures.

Monday, 24 May 2010

What a shitty day

(1) At the dentist's: no filling yet in lieu of that I ate last week, the dentists were to a ceramics workshop and got some new technology to do it in ceramics. Will cost a small fortune but it shouldn't get gnawed off again.
(2) At the vet: kitty has bad pancreas. It's either metabolic mess that could be solved with diet, or, more likely, tumor.
(3) In the family: in fact, when I called for the results of the blood panel, I conflated 'elevated glucose levels' and 'will need strict diet', interspersed with the vet's apologies for not being at the office and thus not being able to give me exact results as diabetes, of which I whined to my parents. There would be some interesting psychologic explanation, I guess.
My father said: Oh, what now, is there diabetic cat food?
My mother said: Don't you want to get a kitten instead?
(4) Out in the wild: been caught in the rain and drenched to the bone twice today.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


I detest flying.
In the good olden days when one was allowed on board with as much water and booze as they could carry, when the personnel and crew was nice and one got cushions and blankets without asking, it was tolerable and sometimes even exciting. Now it's the century of Fruit Bat, we've had terrorists that made travelling miserable for us dehydrated people, volcanic ash which made the tickets disgustingly expensive...

Alrighty, a silly story, you deserve it.
So, there was 9/11. We were scheduled to go, or to be exact, to fly to Cyprus two weeks later. We included yours truly, my mother who is able to get lost at a Podunk bus station, her sister, my scaredy-shit aunt, who had never really travelled, her two teenage sons and all my grandparents that were alive at that time, three pieces altogether, including an alcoholic and chain-smoker grandma and slightly senile and considerably idiotic know-it-all grandpa.
Cynical as I am, I ordered diabetic fare for grandpa because he prefers cakes - yes, there were days when they actually served meals included in the price of the ticket. I took a huge first aid kit that included a bottle of alcohol and required my mother that she take one onboard - it was before someone decided that cheap vodka could be used to poison the captain or wtf.
Things went as crazily as they could. I knew the hotel so upon seeing the keys, I assigned to me and to my mother the room most distant from the others. Later on I learned that the downstairs room with garden view was meant for alcoholic grandma who claimed that she wouldn't be able to climb the stairs. Gah. At Day 2, mom crept to me asking for the sunburn ointment for grandpa who knew what's best for him, the best of his day was refusing sunscreen. Alcoholic grandma was sulking for no apparent reason. Aunt got hives so I pulled out allergy meds and hives ointment. Normal grandma got sunburnt - more panthenol and hardcore sunscreen for her. Teenagers were annoying. During the first five days, I used up all betadine, band-aids, mosquito repellents, ibuprofen, anti-diarrhoea stuff and sunscreen I had. My father was to arrive for a few days only so he was ordered to plunder the pharmacy, booze wasn't exactly required due to easily obtainable local wine and I was grinning smugly and whenever someone whined about someone else, I smiled and said I had been telling it all the time.
The real Rio was the journey back. I left my shoes in the room and checked out. Then I realized I was barefoot, explained at the reception, got the keys and went back. Meantime the room was serviced and the maintenance denied existence of my shoes so I was going back in beach thongs.
Grandpa fell asleep at the airport bathroom and the flight was delayed because of our group.
My father is the alpha male which sometimes interferes with my traditional rank of navigator and the who deals with natives - he snatched the ticket stubs and I was somehow required to place the chaotic mob of my relatives not knowing where while being yelled at by several angry flight attendants (they probably immediately recognized who is the real boss here, that's what I call good training). I reclaimed the stubs and found out an elderly couple blocking our seats. Upon polite request, they refused to move so I channeled the attendants' anger to them.
We were seated, grandma got pissed at grandpa that she wanted the window seat and they started arguing. Alcoholic grandma installed the sickness bag on her lap and started explaining, including vivid gestures, how sick she is going to be for sure and that she will die soon. Cousins started fighting for something. Aunt had stupid questions and mom made faces at her. Father yelled at his mother, the alcoholic grandma, to drop it. Grandpa wanted to have a smoke and I needed to tell aunt, who was at hand, to get the cigarettes away from him, plain explanation that this is a non-smoking flight elicited a reaction along the lines of Nobody will tell me what I can do.
It took just around ten minutes for the attendants to get the point and they kept me inundated with champagne while smiling understandingly. I ended up in Vienna in an improbable state of mind, smiling widely and wearing beach thongs in snow, which didn't matter to me at all.
That's how I realized that being drunk doesn't make flying any nice but it makes me not to care.

Long bus routes are like flying. Sans onboard meal and much longer. That's why I try to avoid buses as much as possible.

Trains, on the other hand....
I've always loved trains. There is a theory that it's the genetics, my great-grandfather was a railroad engineer (and a sailor before that) but most likely it's just because.

I'm going to a conference in Leeds. The previous time I checked the airline tickets were around 300 euros, meantime there was that volcano with sexy name (1) doing its job and today the price soared to around 700. And I hate flying. I hear that it's never gonna get any better, prices rising, service worsening, security idiots being idiots... so I simply decided not to fly. It's not that convenient anyway. One day, I'll extend this no flying policy for trips overseas. After all, if the gods had wanted us to fly, they'd give out the tickets for free. (2)

I'm in the midst of planning the train trip via Cologne, Brussels and the tunnel. Exciting.

(1) Sure I know how to write Eyjafjallajökull. I like silly jokes, that's it.
(2) The who gets the Terry Pratchett reference right will get a large sample of Sira des Indes, of which I intend to rant soon.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Cry into the darkness

Two ancient Guerlains appeared on eBay last week.

This beauty sold for $1274.

This one went for over $1400.

Guerlains, it could be you earning that money if you relaunched things from your archives. I would be willing to pay some 400-500 euros for Djedi, don't need the posh bottle. I'd love to sniff tens of your creations of the past and I believe I would get some because, admittedly, I care a damn about your violets (the Meteorites powder I got the other day reeks of violet bon bons, damn)

I know that I'm not going to be heard but I just needed to vent. Aaaaargh.

Guerlains, for your information, I'm getting my vintage perfumes elsewhere. Serves you right.

Monday, 3 May 2010


There's a movie called Amerika, based on one of Kafka's short stories.

The theme song is no big deal, I'd say, but the dark stylization oscillating between art deco and greasy industrial atmosphere is utterly cool. Upon seeing that there's a perfume named Amérique, I fell immediately for the name. It took me some time to actually find it, it's been discontinued for long.
First, I got a miniature of EdT which seemed all carnations to me. Carnations have a warm peppery aspect. Also, the sweaty facet of coriander is present and certain bitternes.
Then I got a bottle of extrait and that hit me straight and plain: Fruity chypre. Sometimes one doesn't need complicated metaphors and florid verbiage.

I had imagined Amérique as a cross between Dzongkha and Black Cashmere and I got fruity chypre. For around five seconds, the cognitive dissonance irked me and then I went off to look for something inspirating for this blog post and stumbled upon... and now the weak of heart and those with taste, sit comfortably and have some alcohol at hand.
Okay, here it is, the original advert for Amérique. Ladies, gentlemen, kittens and other creatures, see the Sunday Morning Hangover after Saturday Night Fever.

Did I say that Amérique is very neat fruity chypre? I did? Well, a reminder. Now, instead of brain bleach, a plain pic taken by yours truly on a sunny morning, if you enlarge it in your photoshop, you'll see the blue sky and my elbow reflecting on the stopper.

Amérique was discontinued long ago but it sometimes appears on auction sites or in various corners of the internetz.

Notes for Amérique: rose, jasmine, geranium, mimosa, hyacinth, neroli, chamomile, vetiver, clary sage, coriander, pepper, iris, rosewood, sandalwood.