Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Encounter With Oudh

Al-Madinah  |  المنورة
Al-Madinah | المنورة (Photo credit: Hossam all line)
"It was in the streets of Madinah that I first encountered this heavenly smell, a concoction of somehow minty fresh herbal freshness, a little bit pungent but also sweet and a tinge of mysterious champor-like smell that reminds you of the dark gloomy interior of an old church but altogether very majestic, a holy kind of experience and strangely unforgettable.  After a while I discovered that the divinely smell came from the perfume shops, a kind of incensed wood chips the shopkeepers occasionally thrown into the incense burner.  Every time the chips is thrown into the burner, a gush of the refreshing aroma filled the street to the wonderment of passers by and after every few yards there were another perfume shops and the magic again!  This has a lasting impression on my mind and it reminds me very much of Madinah much more than other things in the city, the rituals and prayers apart. 

Long after my return to the home land the longing for Madinah took me into a quest to find what the magical incence in the holy city was.  I did a  research on attar perfumes and my first guess was Patchouli or Nilam mainly because of the herbal quality.  I bought and sampled a few patchouli perfumes but no, it was not it, patchouli is herbal and fresh but that does not have the minty-like smell.
I sampled and tried many other perfumes but none give the sense I that I can recall.  My worry then was that the memory of the smell will gradually faded from my mind and so will be the rest of Madinah. One day I randomly pick a perfume in a local shop that was labelled as Ood, it was nothing like what I was looking for, disgusting woody smell, pungent and fecal fresh from the bottle.  Even the sales girl gave a disgusted grin.  I was hopeless, nonetheless I gave it a chance, hoping that the smell will change as it dries as what some other perfumes normally do.  At home I poured some of the oil into the burner's bowl with some water in it and lighted up the candle below it, a little better.

The next day right after work as I opened the door to my living, suddenly a weak traces of the long yearned smell touches my sense.  That drew me to the incense burner where the smell is stronger.  The candle has long went out since the day before, the water in the bowl has dried and there were an oily residues of the perfume almost dried at the bottom of it.  I held it close to my nose and "EUREKA"!!  Yes I have found it!!

It was the Ood or Gaharu as the local calls it.  All the disgusting smell was no more there, now it was all the heavenly smell that I vividly pick from my memory.  The pictures of Madinah came clear to the mind now, the streets, the buildings, the food, the blessed Holy Mosque and the longing for the Messenger.

Gaharu is a product of my country and my very own place, it took a half an hour drive to the outside of the city to the plantation, it was in my backyard all the time but the magic I discovered in a land far away."

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