Scent of a Man

I love airports. Not because of airplanes or the joy of travel. That’s old hat. I’ve been flying for 25 years.

It’s the exotic perfumes and eau de toilettes lining the shelves at the Shopper’s Stop or Duty Free store. I think I may have a perfume fetish.

But damned if I am the only one. Haven’t you noticed how many travellers stalk these shops, pumping those ‘testers’ liberally without ever having bought a single bottle of Giorgio Armani or Ralph Lauren?

How I wish I could be like them. But I don’t have the guts – even after serving in the navy for 25 years. You see, I am the kind who steps away embarrassed and gazes at the sky when Madhuri starts bargaining with the vegetablewala. She believes there’s always room for knocking off a few quid from the price tag, while I am the kind who shops online just so I don’t have to bargain or cringe at the price publicly 😎

Back to the airport. I admire people who can douse themselves with half a dozen perfumes in full view of staring storekeepers and come out smelling of, well, something floral. I have watched them operate with impunity from the safe distance of the coffee shop next door. I believe there’s a technique; it’s not just all about thick skin.

It goes something like this.

Firstly, breeze into the shop like you are NaMo on campaign trail. Keep glancing at your watch as if gates are closing. Avoid direct eye contact with the pretty lass who’s steering an intercepting course to catch you before you pop the first bottle. Earlier, they never used to care. After freeloaders burnt huge holes in their balance sheet, they seem to have gotten wiser (or miser, if you will). Now they hover around you like your best buddies.

“Sir, can I show you something in gents or ladies?”, She goes.

“No, actually i want to see something in gorillas. Excuse me, I can read English. It’s only the price tag I have difficulty with, you wicked woman”, you want to say, but end up saying “ah…err..hmm…I was just looking”

That twinkle in her eye says “caught you, freeloader!”, as she takes out a small strip of testing paper and waves it in the air like PC Sorcar Sr.

“Sir, are you looking in mild or strong? Can I show you a nice floral parfum from Chanel? Ma’am will love it, Sir!”. This one’s a trap I often fall into.

“Shooo! At 5-grand a piece, ma’am will probably break that bottle on my head like a ship’s launching ceremony, you trickster”, you want to tell her, but end up squirming “well, err…uh..hmmm, lemme see”. She holds the bottle exactly 12-inches away from that confounded strip of paper, sprays it with little wisps and again does the abracadabra. What a royal waste of good parfum. My heart burns each time the mist is wasted on that paper while my 56-inch chest screams “bring it on”.

Once, I mustered rare courage to tell the storekeeper I am not interested in buying anything, hoping I would be left in peace. That had the exact reverse effect as the girl then followed me like a private eye, all the time pretending to arrange small little bottles on the shelf next to me. If they had a bottle of chloroform, I’d have surely tested it on her.

Be like dilliwalas, my friend tells me. They have no qualms about using any ‘muft ka chandan’. Pumping as many ‘testers’ as their flight schedule would permit, liberally spraying their underarms, neck, back, even wrists with Hugo Boss and Givenchy like they are traveling embalmed. Then round it off with a splash of cologne on the cheeks, cocking a snook at the disapproving storekeeper, then striding to the aircraft like Vijay Mallya after immigration.

But I haven’t the gumption to pull off such tricks, and instead end up paying ₹299+GST for a coffee at Starbucks while sniffing the aromatic wake trailing behind these professionals.

After several missed opportunities with free testers, I finally caved in and fell for not one, but two bottles of Calvin Klein in a ‘him & her’, twin-pack from Doha Duty Free. After doing the mental math for Qatari Riyals to INR, I was sure I had landed a deal. My bubble burst when the cashier said with a smug look “that’ll be 299 USD sir”. Wearing suit-boot and speaking my best English, I couldn’t possibly baulk at the purchase after having whipped out my ‘platinum’ credit card like some quick-gun-murugun.

Holy mackerel! It’s almost four Qatari Riyals to a single dollar! I felt like I was hit by an overspeeding Lamborghini. “Dont you have a conscience? How do you sleep at night, you bandit from Arabia?!”, I wanted to ask the cashier.

“Thank you, have a nice day” I ended up muttering instead as I collected my twin-pack and walked out to the boarding area.😣

Enjoy, freeloaders…I just paid for your party 😓

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©KP Sanjeev Kumar, 2018. All rights reserved. I can be reached at kipsake1@gmail.com. Views are personal.

Featured image: www.qatardutyfree.com

3 thoughts on “Scent of a Man

  1. Hey KP, the feeling’s mutual!! We’ll bottled and packaged article… smells musky too…(from the coffee shop)..ha ha ha..cheers

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