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Saturday, March 18, 2023

the Attar attraction ! @ Charminar

Many youth are addicted to body sprays, perfumes and .. .. I generally do not use any perfume ! – yet was attracted by this shop and bought two little bottles, more because –  the display  was tempting !, its owner was charming ! and I thought of my maternal grandfather !! 

The Qutb Shahi dynasty  ruled   Golkonda.  After the collapse of Bahmani Sultanate, the Qutb Shahi dynasty was established in 1512 AD by Sultan-Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk, better known though less correctly referred to in English as "Quli Qutb Shah".  One of his best remembrances, is the Charminar -   (lit.'four minarets'), a monument located in Hyderabad, Telangana.  Constructed in 1591, the landmark is a symbol of Hyderabad and officially incorporated in the emblem of Telangana.  While both historically and religiously significant, it is also known for its popular and busy local markets surrounding the structure.  Around Charminar there are hundreds of shops and pedlars selling – ornamental bangles, pearls, corals, perfumes, dresses and more !!  

Summer is on in Chennai – sooner sweltering heat can really dampen the spirits, making us feel irritable and deprived of energy. To escape the body odour, people use, talcum powder, body sprays and fragrant.   These sprays come infused with enchanting fragrances that keep one smelling fresh for long hours. Some of them also come packed with antibacterial properties and take the problem of body odour head on. 

Aromatics, so called because of their distinctive perfumed smell, are substances derived from crude oil and, in small quantities, from coal. Aromatics are hydrocarbons, organic compounds that consist exclusively of the elements carbon and hydrogen – without which life would not be possible on Earth. The main aromatics are benzene, toluene and the xylenes; they are used as starting materials for a wide range of consumer products.  Aromaticity is a chemical property in which a conjugated ring of unsaturated bonds, lone pairs, or empty orbitals exhibit a stabilization stronger than would be expected by the stabilization of conjugation alone. It can also be considered a manifestation of cyclic delocalization and of resonance. 

Away, this advertisement was irritating to say the least – the  so called ‘Axe effect’  drawing  women in hordes to a male who has sprayed himself liberally with the Axe deodorant.  The Axe brand of deodorants from Hindustan Unilever primarily targetted young males. ..... and then there was this  newsitems   ..... "Unable to attract even a single girl, frustrated man sues Axe"  -  published in many newspapers including TOI itself.    The news was not real though  !!! 

Have seen and smelt a perfume called ‘Attar’.  Also known as Ittar, it   is an essential oil derived from botanical or other natural sources. Most commonly these oils are extracted via hydro or steam distillation. Attar can also be expressed by chemical means but generally natural perfumes which qualify as ittars are distilled with water.  The oils are generally distilled into a wood base such as sandalwood and then aged. The aging period can last from one to ten years depending on the botanicals used and the results desired. Technically ittars are distillates of flowers, herbs, spices and other natural materials such as baked soil over sandalwood oil/liquid paraffins using hydro distillation technique involving a still (deg) and receiving vessel (bhapka).  The word is believed to be a derivative from Persian meaning perfume.   

The Egyptians were famous for producing perfumes throughout the ancient world. They were formulated from plants and flowers before they could be added to other oils.   Liquid perfumes used to be a mixture of oil and crushed herbs until  discovery   with roses.    

In my recent visit to Hyderabad and Charminar, passing through – this shop selling perfumes was quite attractive and a conversation with its owner Mr Abdul Sami Bhojani was enthusing.  Here are some photos of the shop as also its owner. : 

In 2022, Nelly Attar danced on her way to Mount Everest becoming the first Arab woman to summit K2. In Saudi Arabia, where women have been discouraged from physical activity, she’s become a role model, inspiring millions to get moving.   She’s danced on technical Ama Dablam and on mellow Kilimanjaro.  This 5’2” powerhouse trained to climb the world’s highest peaks from a home base of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  That’s hot, flat desert, not mountain snow and ice.   

Before concluding, my maternal grandfather worked for a Company - Maschmeijer Aromatics, the makers of musks and fragrances.  Maschmeijer Aromatics India Limited was setup in 1960 in collaboration with the world famous Maschmeijer Aromatics B.V., Amsterdam for the manufacture of musks and fragrances. It was in Pallavaram.   Besides their products, they used to print colourful calendars which I used to distribute to the elite few close people of my grandpa. In the  photo at the start  – the two white bottles were purchased from Bhojani, the other two are Maschmeijer products. 

Interesting ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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