Browsing through the perfumes section at Harrod’s in London, I chanced upon this fragrance called the Nawab of Oudh.
We don’t even have an itr that’s named after the nawabs, and a perfume in London named after one? I was happy like only tourists can be to find a trace of home in a foreign destination.
Of course, the efficient sales guy quickly caught on to my enthusiasm, and asked if I was interested in the perfume. I said I was, not just the way he thought I would be.
“I belong to this place,” I said, pointing to the perfume bottle.
“Really? Is that what the Nawab of Oudh smells like?” he asked, offering the bottle to me. He wasn’t joking, he honestly wanted to know.
I inhaled the perfume, it was a strong, pungent smell, nothing I would ever buy. “I don’t know, I’ve never smelt one,” I said, smiling at the prospect of smelling a Nawab of Oudh! I’ve read about the clothes and jewellery the nawabs wore, and the food they ate, and the lives they lived, but somehow, I don’t remember reading anything in particular about the perfumes they wore. Or did he mean, what a Nawab of Oudh just smelled like without any perfume?
“I’m just excited this perfume is named after the place I belong to!” I simply replied.
“So, you’re from Nawauuub?” he drawled.
“No, I’m from Oudh,” I said, even more amused now.
“Oh, ok,” he said, “Where is this place?”
“It’s in India, near Delhi, it’s called Lucknow now,” I proceeded to explain, “The nawabs are the erstwhile royalty of the place.”
“Oh! I thought Oudh was a tree…a dying tree, and the Nawab of Oudh was the fragrance of the tree!”
I looked at him incredulously this time, waved an arm, shook my head, and said in my best English accent, “Never mind!” and moved on, still smiling!
PS: Yes, we went to London. Yes, I will blog more about that later 🙂