Woke this morning after a couple of hours of sleep, feeling extremely tired and groggy. The bleak morning mood was lifted as I swung by the post office to pick up a package that was waiting for me; I’d thought that it was my latest order from Amazon, but instead it was a belated birthday gift from my family in the States.

Along with some pictures of my sister’s new baby and my niece’s wedding to the French guy, they’d sent a bottle of Shalimar.

Shalimar is my favourite perfume, and has been ever since I was a child. It was my grandmother’s scent, and I would sit at her dressing table and smell the bottle, loving the heavy, sensual smell clinging to the heavy glass. To me, it was everything I expected being “grown up” to be.

(Amusing footnote: a quick google of Shalimar nets this: “Shalimar is a classic perfume from Guerlain, that was popular, although very exotic, in the 50’s. According to one reference, it “was inspired by the timeless love story of an Indian Emperor who designed the Shalimar gardens for the wife he adored. The hint of musk from exotic spices such as amber and vanilla were considered too overtly sensual for refined women at first.”)

So here I am. Shalimar is my scent, and I love it as much as I did when I was a child. I’m neither exotic nor “too overtly sensual”, but the continuity of the shared history from my grandmother to myself is comforting.

As I sit here typing, in far-off England, in a busy office, I can smell amber.

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