Some of my favourite New York memories:
Listening to a Mexican singer in the train station- his soulful ballads almost made me cry, eating honey roasted peanuts near Wall Street, watching a 25-30 year old guy sing folk rock in Dylanesque style at the Washington Square Park, eating grilled corn on the cob (butta- i love you) in Cafe Habana, visiting the (not at all over-rated) JAR boutique in Bergdorf Goodman,discovering Degas at the Met, watching S admire Rodin's sculptures and Pollock's paintings, lazing on the Brooklyn promenade and drinking in the sunset, smelling Mandy Aftel's perfumes for the first time, eating rava dosa in Saravana's and counting in 3 different South Indian languages, running to catch the train home and discovering that we had landed up on the wrong platform..(ok..that was definitely not a favourite memory- how did it get here?)
Ever noticed how the very incidents that would prompt you to throw a couple of somethings on somebody's head seem so much more entertaining in retrospect?
Living in Orange County where the trees seem to have been made to order, I found even the dirt on the New York streets weirdly attractive..People seemed more interesting-I found myself wondering what the guy who ran out of his apartment was thinking.There is a breathing life force that seems to surge through the city- that could energize you or perhaps tire you...
More detailed decriptions of some of my favourite memories follow:
We had to wait for the sales rep to return from a break but am I glad I waited! Picture this: A dark room with six boxes arranged as an arc on the table..Enter, a handsome Hungarian gentleman (sales rep)..we seat ourselves. He opens each of the boxes one by one..each houses a piece of chamois soaked in one of the six JAR perfumes. (JAR by the way stands for the initials of the perfumer: Joel Arthur Rosenthal). Once we had smelt them in the box, we tried the ones we liked on our skin..None of the notes were made available to us, but we were free to speculate and we did!
Diamond Water: This literally smelt like diamond water..like pieces of precious crystals scattered on my wrist. There was clove- not a fiery clove and pepper like Poivre (Caron) but an elegant cool clove dancing on ice. This scent didnt change/evolve much on my skin- but who wants something this lovely to change?
Bolt of Lightning: AAh..and this one changes.. slowly revealing a golden-white heart (tuberose maybe) within its menacing (but intoxicating) dark folds..It started to get pretty on my skin but was much more beautiful on Sandeep's skin.
Golconda and Shadow: These were again (to my nose) variations on the clove and sweet spices theme (I love those)...Shadow and Golconda, if my memory serves me right, started off similarly- sweet and spicy..I remember liking the beginning of Shadow better, but it slowly turned sweeter on my skin, reminiscent of some Indian drink that I can't put my finger on. Golconda fades faster, and just as soon as you think it has disappeared, its warm notes reappear.
Ferme Tes Yeux which means, we were told, 'close your eyes'..and that's exactly what I did when I smelt this one (it was the first I smelt)..Leather (a note I always think i won't like but which bewitches me nevertheless) Dark and brooding, but so attractive..like a breath of danger which doesn't stop you from enjoying the ride!
By the way, did I mention how utterly expensive these scents are?
Wandering in the Met was one of my favourite New York experiences especially discovering Degas- looking at his paintings made me feel like painting..I loved the way he captured those moments- some fluid, some snatched out of the air, some embarassingly honest and some just beautiful! Even though I don't find him as visually 'catchy' as maybe Van Gogh or Rembrandt, I love him for his ability to freeze a thought and put it in a painting, but allowing the thought to have a life of its own..And you admire the painting while following that thought!
I also enjoyed Balthus' Theresa series which flings a dichotomy at you- the pure innocence of Theresa's face, coupled with her suggestively positioned legs, is disturbing but beautiful nevertheless!..
I have often wondered why imperfections lend so much beauty to things/people..Seemingly perfect faces rarely allow me to call them beautiful, unless marked by some character, strength or maybe just an assymetry. A storm offers so much more beauty than a calm pleasant day..Or am I confusing intensity with beauty or... are they the same thing?
Mandy Aftel Boutique
I was looking forward to smelling the perfumes created by Mandy Aftel whose book 'Essence and Alchemy' I have read and savoured and then reread. *waves to Shveta* ..And I wasn't disappointed.Her creations are unusual and beautiful. My favourite (I must have smelt and applied more than 12 of her perfumes in the span of 30-45 mins, so forgive me if I change my mind) was Shiso- green,spicy and the most unusual of the lot, though I did enjoy the citrus opening and the warm cocoa of Cacoa as well. The testers of the solid perfumes were due for a change and therefore slightly 'off' so am not sure I can rely on my impressions of them.(Read: I have to smell Boronia again before I dismiss it off as 'not as beautiful as I expected ')
CB I hate perfume
This interesting perfume store in Brooklyn is less like a boutique and more like an ode to smell..Christopher (the perfumer) sits in a room behind the 'store space' actually working, giving the shop a very likeable 'workshop air'. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his thoughts on each of his perfumes, which appear alongside his perfumes in the display. I loved the fact that beside his perfume 'Burning Leaves' was this quote from Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibilty: 'Not everyone has your passion for dead leaves'. Priceless!
Dead leaves- one of the many reasons I miss fall!
( His website lists his perfumes and the stories behind them: cbihateperfume.com)
Sandeep loved 'Tea rose' which i must admit smelt like the real thing. But, not being a very 'rose' person, I wasn't tempted. Which flower are you?
Statue of Liberty
Of all the 'touristy sights' that I visited (read: empire state building, statue of liberty, times square, broadway) I enjoyed seeing the Statue of Liberty and hearing the stories of how it was built. Even though I have no part in the nostalgia that its sight evokes,I was moved by everything the Statue symbolised for the early immigrants...