|A silent singer at Baalbek, Lebanon|
I’m sorry once again for the long silence – things have been pretty turbulent since the beginning of this year. I wouldn’t say the storm is over yet, but there is slightly more stability ahead, and I will settle for that.
At the end of January I had to leave Syria. The last weeks passed in a marathon of work and a series of goodbyes about which there was nothing good. I wish I could have stayed; I wish I could have done more; I wish, I wish. Even now, I want to go back.
I ended up in a neighbouring country with two suitcases. Life became strangely timeless and unanchored, spent in hotels, friends’ apartments and other people’s offices. I’m not sure if you have ever had the sensation of being trapped in a bubble, floating along, able to see out, but unable to make yourself heard or to interact with the world in a meaningful way. I lost confidence in my ability to speak or write when the reports I dispatched elicited nothing but more words. Nothing happened. Meanwhile heart-breakingly polite pleas for help flowed in from friends left behind, and daily news reports illustrated the suffering of people just a short drive from where I floated and flailed. I'm no war correspondent, but I understood what Marie Colvin meant when she posted on FB: “Feeling helpless...will keep trying to get out the information."
There were some bright moments during this floating journey – I made some wonderful new friends, and rediscovered old ones. I learned to treasure small pieces of good news, and to think on a more humble scale.
I did not feel up to writing about perfume, but I am grateful to the perfume bloggers who did: how I have savoured your reviews, discussions, travelogues, and memories. You have made me laugh out loud, and inspired me to seek out perfumeries in every city. Perfume blogs are my Great Escapes, so thank you!
While in Beirut in February, I discovered not one but two department stores carrying Serge Lutens. My first perfume purchase of 2012 was dark, tarry, syrupy Chypre Rouge. If you get the dosage right, this one is gloriously enveloping and warm. Too much, on the other hand, is insufferable. Chypre Rouge seems deliberately difficult – by turns loving and nasty, like a bad boyfriend. I find it irresistible. For more considered reviews, try here and here.
I also tried Five O’Clock au Gingembre, and liked it instantly. It is as comforting and sensual a winter scent as I can think of : grated ginger, a little sweetness, spices and Earl Grey tea. I wish it had better staying power, but perhaps that is the point – I want to spray and spray, roll around in, and practically baste myself in this stuff. Miaaaow!
To the sales assistants at BHV in Beirut: shokran kiteer for giving me not one but four testers of Ambre Sultan and Fleurs d'Oranger. You know the way to my heart! I will most certainly be back…possibly for the hothouse mix of white flowers, coconut, and cough syrup that is Datura Noir.