Sunday, January 24 2010
When people think of Egypt, words that come to mind are 'desert', 'pyramids' and 'sphinx'. Few people know that one of the country's hidden treasures is its history of the use of perfumes.
The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt says that "oils, perfumes and eye paints were regarded as virtual necessities".
Perfume is known to be a powerful aphrodisiac that can lift one's mood instantly. Scents range from spicy to sweet to fresh to subtle. Personally, I prefer a fresh scent. Sweet scents make me feel ill.
After seeing The Sphinx, Dana takes us to a Perfume Factory. We are led into a room where shelves are lined against walls. One one wall, is a variety of perfume oils. The other walls has a display of perfume bottles of different shapes, colours and sizes. We are seated and welcomed by two men who say they are brothers. One of them tells us that it's a family business dating back many years. As is Egyptian culture, we are offered a drink.
"You have a choice to choose, but not a choice to refuse," says the one man.
Everything seems choreographed. I may as well be watching a DVD of their explanation. As one man - Aladdin, sits in front of my mother and me, his brother - Mohammad is running back and forth bringing different perfume bottles to the table that separates Aladdin and us. Of course, he's done this presentation plenty of times before. I still wonder how he remembers every single fragrance.
Mohammad applies a few drops to various areas on our arms to decide which scent we like the best. Aladdin makes jokes about how men love certain fragrances. We briefly divert to Egyptian men, and I tell him about the comment I got earlier from the pyramids - where a man told me, "Your body is like an Egyptian woman - beautiful".
Aladdin smiles and says, "He wasn't lying. It's true!"
Is he just trying to get a sale? Hell, I don't care - it makes me feel so good that I will buy a perfume from him for boosting my ego!
My mum and I decide on what we want to buy. There's a particular fragrance I want to smell again [Arabian Nights] and as Mohammad drops a few drops on my arm, he tells me quietly with a smile, "This is Egyptian Viagra".