As one steps inside a perfume outlet, the faint fragrance lingering in the air would transport a person to the Middle East which is famous for its scents and perfumery. It’s been a few years that Hassan Shahid, an aroma enthusiast and owner of the store has set up the first Arabic perfumery lounge in Srinagar with the name, Scent of Arabia.
Hassan who keeps on travelling to various parts of the Middle East used to buy perfumes for himself and would often get compliments from people. “It’s kind of a good addiction. With good perfume, you can create a good vibe and create a good ambience around yourself. Smelling good makes your personality better,” he said.
It was the moment when Hassan thought that he should get the top perfume brands from the Middle East to Kashmir.
He said that there was no option for people to buy original middle east perfumes in Kashmir so he set up the live fragrance outlet where people can smell the scents and ittar before buying.
“There is no need for people to travel to Middle East countries for perfumes because it’s here. These perfumes are non-alcoholic and belong to the top brand of Arab. People once smell it and refuse to put it down,” he said while adding that the store has 70-80 varieties of ittar.
Hassan while taking us to the roots of Arabian tradition and culture said that the good fragrance has been highly liked and appreciated by the people and many auliyas were doing the business of fragrances in the ancient times which inspired him to do something on the similar lines.
“One of the hadiths goes like - Be like the flower that gives its fragrance to even the hand that crushes it. All companions of messenger (Saw) used to wear ittar, look clean and smell good. The concept of cleanliness and smelling good has always been there,” he added.
Apart from perfumery including the famous ouds and musk, the store offers essential oils, incense burners and bakhoor.
Oudh or Agarwood is a fragrant, dark resinous wood used in incense, oils and perfumes. It is considered an antidepressant, stress buster and immunity buster. It's popular because of its captivating scent due to woody and balsamic notes.
Bakhoor is an Arabic name given to a type of wood chips soaked in perfume oils. When bakhoor is burned in an incense burner, its aroma spreads in the environment and makes it pleasant.
There are two types of incense burners- traditional one works on the coal whereas the modern one works on the electricity which heats the metallic blade. As per Hassan, in traditional one, the incense remains the same which gives out the natural aroma whereas in electric one, it blends with the metal and changes the fragrance a little bit.
The oils and fragrances having oud are often blended with musk, sandalwood, jasmine, almonds, fruits and flowers. Other essential oils available at his store are Kashmiri oud, DJ Musk, Tea Rose, Al-abeer, Oudh Shariqa etc.
Talking about the fragrances of top brands of Middle East he said, one of the best sellers, Raggba wood intense is a fusion of oud and other ingredients which gives out a smell of burnt sugar.
Leading brands like Lattafa Thameen Collection, Rasasi, Swiss Arabian, ARMAF, Ajmal etc. are available at his store.
Arabiyat Zahoor Ali Lail Intense, a brand by My Perfumes, is the fragrances that opens with energizing fragrance with oriental notes. It has lily, jasmine, amber, magnolia, sandalwood, mandarin, black pepper and vanilla fragrance.
Ana Abiyedh Rouge by Lattafa perfumes is a woody spicy fragrance. Its top notes are Nashi pear, Kumquat and Bergamot, middle notes are Geranium, Cardamom and Coriander and base notes are Ambergris, Suede and Tahitian vetiver.
Notes in perfumes are descriptors of scent that can be sensed upon the applications of a perfume. Notes are separated into three classes: top/head notes, middle/heart notes, and base notes which denote groups of scents which can be sensed with respect to the time after the application of a perfume.
“The perfumes are the best thing that one can give to their loved ones. Initially people used to go to the Middle East and get the perfumes as gifts for their loved ones. Such was the craze of the fragrances,” he said.
The price of the fragrances starts from 400 and can go upto 10,000.
“People buy everything, be it ittar or perfumes. Ittar is made from essential oils while perfumes are formed by denatured ethanol,” he adds.
Talking about the qualities of the good fragrances, he said that they have an impact on the people as the perfumes are good stress busters, mood lifters and antidepressants.
He further said that the aroma has a direct impact on the mood and stress levels of the person. “The fragrances have been proven to improve the mental outlook and lower the stress levels. It can also alter the mood, creates positivity, calmness and can also ease insomnia and provide clarity and focus,” he emphasized.
Having participated in a number of exhibitions, he said that the response of people has been good and people from foreign countries too pay a visit to his store who appreciate and buy the fragrances from him.
Hassan wants to increase the knowledge about the fragrances and wants to expand the business by setting up stores in various cities of Srinagar and other districts of Kashmir. He also owns a label of modest fashion and attire named Hasnain’s.
High-quality fabrics like Velvets, Giza cottons, anti-bacterial bamboo fabric and lawn fabrics etc. are used in the manufacturing of apparels for men and women.
Hassan has been reaching the global audience through his Instagram handle, Scent of Arabia and website hasnains.co.
After pursuing mechanical engineering, his plan of working in a multinational company in the Middle east didn’t work out due to covid 19 lockdown but his love for fragrances made him carve his way into the fragrance industry.
He said, “No work is big or small. You have to try doing new things and create a niche for yourself. I am also thinking of introducing the UK concept of paying where people at my store will be paid hourly for their service. We have to create a change by doing things differently.”