Hyderabad’s bustling area of Charminar is a test for your senses. Your eyes cannot capture the numerous colours of clothes, gem stones, jewellery and people. Your ears get tired of listening to police on speaker trying to maintain traffic on roads, roadside shopkeepers calling you, azaan and of course India’s most used instrument, the horns. Your tongue cannot stop gulping saliva due to mouth-watering flavours all around Charminar be it kababs or other street food stalls, your tongue takes you there. The sense of touch is basically useless in such a crowded place with only thing one can touch is his wallet to be sure that pick pocketer’s sense of touch is not better than yours.
The nose though has a confusing treat with almost more than 100 fragrances of ittar/attar (perfumes). The street between Laad Bazaar and Moti chowk is full of ittar shops.
We entered a shop with a fancy circular stand having dazzling golden bottles and different coloured ittars in it. The small shop already had a family in it, probably the owner’s father was showing them ittars. Leaving the owner for us. Both of them had long beards and wore a white Kurta. Apart from the owner few more eyes were staring at us from behind his head, people about whom I had no idea but seemed to be very important as the owner had nailed his photos along with them. After greeting us he asked me for my choice, obviously looking at my face he knew I was his right customer.
The first ittar I tried was my favourite Chandan (Sandalwood). He put a dab on my hand, I rubbed and smelled which brought in thought of, how much would this complete bottle cost. The owner immediately brought another bottle “Bade bhaiya aap Darbar (name of ittar) try kijiye ye thoda strong hai, bade bade raja isko lagake shikar pe jate the” (trans: You try this perfume Darbaar a bit strong but was used by kings when they went for hunting)
The words ‘thoda strong’ (Trans: a bit strong) alerted me “Aap apne hath pe lagake dikhao na, strong wala ittar muze jyada pasand nai.” (Trans: You put a dab on your hand and then show. I don’t like strong smells) I was lucky not to try, as it was strong enough to shoot pain in my brow. Before I could try Firdous (name of ittar) a speciality of Hyderabad, a bottle of ittar flew past us to fall near the owner’s father.
Everyone startled, looked at a man with anger on his face. The man started shouting and throwing packaging boxes at owner. We and the other customers within no time were out of his shop. Hyderabadi language being dominantly Hindi with a tinge Urdu we could understand and enjoy the fight from outside. Apparently, the owner had brought some customer from angry man’s shop by telling he sells fake ittar.
My panicked mother, now started pulling me away from the entertainment and the fight was now out of my sight. The only thing now left with me was a thought of how Karma had hit the owner and was now facing a loss of two customers, instead he could have played it fairly and peacefully. The owner however was now ready to hunt down the angry man.
I think the ittars had played their magic. I with Chandan (Sandalwood) on my hand was calm & in peace as against the owner with Darbar on his hand was fierce enough to kill. May be Charminar has smelled it all and thus casts every possible emotion around itself.
“A Bottle of Perfume is like a potent wizard that transports you across thousand miles and all the years you live.”Helen Keller(edited)
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