Friday, July 03, 2015

Goodbye Oman

Drawn to the heady fragrance, we strolled over to the Amouage perfumerie at the Oman airport. The signature perfumes of the brand are sultry and heavy with frankincense, musk, spices anchoring the aroma base. I tried two or three variations but couldn't find one I'd seriously think of wearing or buying at $250 per 50 mls. Says Luca Turin, a perfume critic, "A perfume is a message in a bottle." The message here is that this perfume is luxurious and royal.....made by decree of the Sultan and too rich for me. The saleslady gave me several testing strips, heavily sprayed and I put them in the side outside pocket of my back pack.

The Omani men wear a long garment called a dishdash or dishdasha. Around the neck of the garment, there's a braided cord ending in a small tassel. The tassel is often dipped in a perfume (or was traditionally) so the wearer can shake it in front of his face, should he encounter any of the number of the ugly smells wafting around in Muscat, like camel breath, rotting food, gases...need I go on?

Of all the variations on the dishdasha around the middle east, I liked the Omani one best with their colorul printed head wraps. The colors are very soft and the designs, beautiful. All government employees are required to wear this uniform to work. It's not an easy outfit to get right...the dishdasha must be spotlessly clean and without wrinkles. There are several approved turban ties but they take time to get just right. The only people we saw wearing them were cab drivers and hotel employees. Why anyone would choose to wear one is beyond me - difficult to run, tricky going up stairs, a bit of a problem driving a car - although all the cabs are driven by genuine Omanis (by decree of the Sultan) and they do a bit of a skirt lift-up thing when getting settled behind the steering wheel. 

We continued walking to the pre-boarding corral, a part of the boarding process for smaller middle eastern airlines. In Oman, there are no boarding ramps and a bus carries you out on the tarmac to the stairs. We sat patiently in ours along with a sea of mosty Indian and Pakistani workers - most looked under 25 - they were returning to Dubai to work, or transiting through Dubai on some kind of cheap fare which zigs zags them all over the place before getting to their destination. Anxiety builds in those corrals...everyone wants to be on time and not miss a connection...they might only have a week's leave and every minute counts when you want to get home, hug your Mom, eat a home cooked meal and then turn around to go back to work. 

When the bus pulled up, there was a massive rush for the door. I'm usually at the back of these packs having no competetive impulses in these races. I know for certain I'm getting on the bus, I'm sitting in 10E and that's going to happen if I'm first or last out of the corral. Eyes down, the young guys elbow past us, get on the bus and sit down. When I got on, almost last, two of the same elbowing young men stood up politely to give me and an elderly Indian lady their seats. Good manners and I was grateful.  But, at seat level, I was perfecty positioned to breathe in the perfume of 60 or 70 young gentlemen's anxious armpits exposed while they hung on to the bus straps. I reached for my bag and discreetly breathed through the Frankincense scented side pockets.

Maybe the Amouage is worth $250 a bottle?

1 comment:

  1. If you didn't get the Amouage, I hope you got a turban or at least- the fabric.