Niche Fragrances in India: A Shopping Guide

Niche Fragrances in India: A Shopping Guide

I discovered the world of niche fragrances only recently. It started with a small sample of the classic Baccarat Rouge 540 EDP, from the house of Maison Francis Kurkdjian. And it went on to become two samples, and then a handful and then I fell down that rabbit hole. It’s been a good rabbit hole, but it’s easy to get lost along the way: the reason for this being the fact that there are a ton of fake fragrances floating around, and unless you are careful, you’re going to end up losing a lot of money. This is where I come in, with a select few LEGIT recommendations of places you can get hold of your niche fragrances from.

Now, before we get into the whole shebang, let’s talk a little bit about how a niche fragrance differs from a designer one.

Fragrance experts have divided fragrances into designer and niche since for ever. When designer fashion houses, like Chanel for example, make a fragrance, it is designed to appeal to as many people as possible – this also means that the ingredients that go into the fragrance are usually synthetic. Now, that might not always be the case. On the other hand, niche fragrances are designed to appeal to a “niche” group of people who are always looking for something unique and different. Niche fragrance brands almost always exclusively sell fragrances, and usually use better ingredients, or offer a smoother blend. They also often have a much better sillage (derived from the French word meaning ‘wake’, or the trail of scent that one leaves behind when wearing a fragrance) and wear longer.

This is also why niche fragrances cost you more money, even the entry-level ones like Montale/Mancera. They are also notoriously hard to come by – you won’t find these at your local Parcos – and you are left with very few options to choose from.

2021 for me has been a year of fragrances: I have bought almost little to none of everything else. This whole journey has also made me gravitate towards a few boutiques that I know I can trust, and I am so happy to be sharing them right here:

1. Maison Des Parfums:

They have a boutique located in Palladium Mall, Mumbai and they have a BUNCH of niche fragrance brands. You can find Amouroud, Bond No. 9, Nasomatto (whose fragrances are super unique, from the shape of the bottles to the blends) and even Xerjoff, to name a select few. They don’t have a dedicated website yet, but I’m told it’s in the works. Meanwhile, if you want to buy from them online, you can always look on Tata CLiQ Luxury or send them a direct message on their Instagram handle @mdpindofficial. Shipping is fast, and I always receive my package in less two days.

2. Scentido Niche Perfumery:

Scentido now has three boutiques in the country – one at Fort, Mumbai, one at Khan Market, Delhi and the last one at Banjara Hills, Hyderabad. They carry brands like Clive Christian, Jul et Mad, Roja Parfums, Fragrance du Bois – that list is endless. They also have Fragrance Consultants who actually call and stay in touch over WhatsApp should you find it confusing to pick THE scent of your dreams. And they send in two samples with every order.

Scentido also has an online store.

3. Splash Fragrance:

I got my backup bottle of La Nuit Trésor from Splash Fragrance. Owned by the VERY patient and kind Gaurav Verma, also has a Lucknow based store called Opulence perfumery, this is a one stop shop for BOTH niche and designer fragrances. They also sell decants, and again, send samples with every order.

Find them online here.

4. Belvish:

My latest discovery, I had to add this store to my list for the sheer fact that they tick all the boxes. Really good prices, check (I find their pricing slightly better than Splash’s). Amazing customer service, check. The two gentlemen at Belvish, Akshay and Jaspreet, are real gems of people. You get pot-pourri and eco-friendly packaging with every order. Their shipping is fantastic and I got my order in less than two days. SHOOK.

They’re based in Delhi but they ship pan-India. Find them online here.

Now, having recommended these stores, there’s a tiny footnote I would like to add: niche fragrances are an investment BUT you need to be careful with how much you end up spending. It is so easy to lose track of things, so I recommend sticking to a budget if you’re just starting out. With that thought out of the way, happy shopping!

I’ve Been Sticking To A Routine, And…

I’ve Been Sticking To A Routine, And…

Before we start, can you guys believe it’s September already? Life’s totally like toilet paper, and it seems to unroll faster as you start nearing the end. I don’t know where I read that, but it’s so true.

It’s currently 5:31 in the morning here in India. I’m a pretty early riser and I don’t give Sundays a miss. I’ve been sticking to a routine for the past couple of months and I’ve noticed major changes. Major. So, does sticking to a semi-strict or strict schedule work? Yes, a hundred percent. Here’s how –

• SLEEP:

I’ve noticed that I, as well as people around me, tend to be irritable if we don’t get enough sleep. This problem could easily be solved by forcing your body and mind to adapt to a routine and sticking to it. Consistency is key, and we often forget that. Fixing your own biological clock is way more important anything else.

And now that I give my body a good six hours of sleep, I’m doing great.

• MEALTIMES:

I used to have this really awful breakfast habits. Sometimes I would even skip a meal because I thought it was okay. And I’d often forget to drink water.

It’s been a few months since I’ve turned my schedule around and I make sure to eat before 9 in the morning. Plus, I’ve cut back completely on coffee and sugar and I don’t drink water between meals. I actually use this app that reminds me to log in my water intake. I love that.

Do I notice a difference? Yes. I don’t really get the munchies anymore. There’s also zero indigestion problems. Go me!

• SKINCARE:

I’m upset because I have good skin, said no one ever. People with good skin often take care of it and eat just right. For the rest of us, with skin problems like dehydration or acne, a skincare routine is key.

I started wearing moisturizer and sunscreen everyday. I mask twice a week. And then I use a sheet mask once a week. I also exfoliate twice a week and again, drink water like a thirsty fish. I’ve also stopped wearing way too much makeup on the daily – I don’t need to anymore – and it’s made me realize that if your skincare game is at level 1000, you don’t even need to wear any makeup at all. Men in my family with great skin don’t wear makeup but they do have a skincare routine – and no it’s not elaborate at all – and it works for them.

I’m still starting out properly, but I know I’ll have amazing results.

• WORKOUTS:

I’ve been following @chloe_t‘s workouts for a while now, and she has these amazing programs that are all free. She’s got ab workouts, arm workouts and everything else that you might need. Also, these workouts are beginner friendly and you can join in on her challenges. Super effective, trust me.

Six days of workouts a week, based on her calendar schedules, have actually toned my body up considerably. All because I’ve been consistently following a routine and I don’t deviate from it.

Do you follow a schedule?

How Netizens Normalize Backlash

How Netizens Normalize Backlash

*TRIGGER ALERT*

The first time that I’d ever been told I was taking up too much space, I was a thirteen-year-old obese teenager. The obesity, I now understand, had been mostly self-induced. But did I deserve to be body-shamed for it? No.

Did the body-shaming stop? Also, no. It came from everywhere: relatives, friends, my then stick-thin geography teacher. Notice the emphasis on the “then”, because now, over a decade later, he is diabetic and chain-smoking to school while trying to hide those newly acquired chins. No hate, Mr. S, you do you. If you are happy, I hope nothing takes away from that.

But did I do something about the body-shaming? I did. I took it constructively and changed my awful diet. I am assuming Falguni Peacock would be proud and aglow with joy somewhere.

What’s the deal with Ms. Peacock, you ask? Well, take a look at this particular article here.

I have to be honest, I am sligtly conflicted here. This could potentially get me into trouble, but I am happy Ms. Peacock did not blatantly tell her brides to go on and lose weight, she only said they could if they wanted to. I have been there, and I know that being told to lose weight on the face is one of the curellest things you could tell someone. But then again people get triggered by so little these days, and the Internet ends up making everything a big deal. All the time. Also, I have said this before, people tend to harbor herd mentality that would probably make the Roman Mob, were it alive today, cringe like crazy. Just a few weeks back, designer Sabyasachi came under fire for talking about Tagore’s famous anthology, Monihara, where Monimala, one of the important characters, is obsessed with her own vanity and jewels. Sabyasachi posted something along the lines of, “A woman who is overdressed is empty on the inside,’ on his social media, and ended up facing a major backlash.

He had to issue a written apology on Instagram.

And just a couple days back, he released photos of what he calls Charbagh, his winter 2019 bridal collection on Instagram. The collection seems to be super inclusive, featuring models with varying body types, and he redeemed himself in the eyes of the public. But the Internet by then already had a new candidate to hate – Ms. Peacock. I can only draw one single solitary conclusion from this, that no matter what you do, or say, or post or talk about, or endorse and love – there will always be a bunch of netizens with serious mob mentality issues, many of them exhibiting borderline feminazi behavior, that will always find fresh targets to lash out at.

So what do you do about it?

You do you. If you’ve got nothing nice to say, say nothing. If you cannot comment constructively, don’t do it. Don’t endorse pile-on hatred. Or fall prey to herd mentality. Just be happy, healthy and slay. In your very own lane.

Happy weekend, my people. Don’t be a troll.

A Millennial’s Guide to Saving Money

A Millennial’s Guide to Saving Money

My Dad used to (actually, he still does) say that the millennial is awful with money. So, every month-end that would see me staring woefully at all the missing zeroes in my bank account, I would make a promise to myself that I would be a lot more planned with my moolah. That one month when I was down to my last few hundred rupees, made me realize that I needed to change my ways. When you’re in college, being broke is the worst thing ever, and I forced myself to get my ish together.

Enter Sooch 2.0, the smart, savvy (an exaggeration), wise as ever – with money – version of me.

• I didn’t really do a LOT, just made a few minor changes. For example, I am a teetolater and I realized that when I did go to clubs, I ended up being the grandma and trust me, when you are the ONLY sober person, you don’t need to be going to clubs in the first place. Getting rid of these friends of mine helped drastically. No money was wasted on Uber, or on other people’s liquor, and I got to spend my Sunday nights sleeping in. Unless of course, I had a night shift.

• The second thing I did was cut back completely on ordering in. And I would cook myself healthy meals that momma would approve. Which is something I do till date.

Not only does this save you money, home-cooked meals are almost always so much easier on your heart and your waistline.

• Investments are your best friend. Read up on mutual funds, and property investments and make smart choices. You’ll get returns and you will feel like a sorted person. Get someone to help you out, if you’re getting stuck somewhere. There’s zero shame in asking for guidance.

• I did a lot of debating, and finally made a giant change in my shopping habits. I don’t buy stuff I won’t ever wear. Which means I don’t have clothes that are lying around collecting dust, and I have a closet that gives me breathing space. I’ve also cut back on my makeup shopping addiction by putting myself on ‘low-buys’ and ‘no-buys’, throughout the year, which means sometimes I go without buying makeup for MONTHS at a stretch. I’ve also unfollowed accounts like Trendmood1 on Instagram, because she is an enabler who makes you feel like you are compelled to buy every new launch that every other brand under the sun comes out with.

• I eighty-sixed my credit card. That saved me a lot of headache and hassle and I don’t have humongous bills to pay at the end of every month. If you’re a compulsive and an IMPULSIVE shopper too, don’t get a credit card in the first place.

What are some of the ways you save money?

Ten Relationship Home Truths

Ten Relationship Home Truths

• The biggest mistake people in relationships make would be comparing their relationship to someone else’s.

• A relationship actually should be between two people. Don’t involve a third person. No aunt or mommy or best friend, no one, would ever be able to fix it for you. The only people that can would be you and your partner.

• EVERY COUPLE HAS PROBLEMS. Mature people handle it like pros and that’s why it seems like their relationship is killing it.

• You’re not ready for a new relationship with a new person if you’re constantly saying crap about your ex. You made the choice to date this person, your ex, and you shouldn’t let your present question your brains.

• Rebounds never really last. If someone says they’re happy with their rebound, they’re lying.

• Most millennials are hella scared of marriage. It’s not just you. It’s most of the millennial population. We’re a screwed up generation.

• Also, millennials are really bad with money. Don’t expect your man to always get you stuff because dude is paying EMIs and home loans and you need to chill about not getting a Valentine’s Day gift.

• If you need to play Nancy Drew and if you’re someone that wants his passwords, boo, you ain’t ready. Same goes for the men. If you can’t trust your partner, you need to take a step back and reconsider.

• If you can expect time and attention and other stuff from your partner without overdoing it, you’re going to make a great partner.

• It’s true: if you can be best friends with your partner, you’re super sorted and you’re hella lucky.

Love and Other Flukes.

Love and Other Flukes.

I finish smiling at the phone and hang up. My cheeks hurt from having to fake it. I’ve been faking it since forever now. I turn off the phone and put it away.

I hate being weak. I hate it that every time this routine phone call happens, I feel dumb and I feel like a compromise. Why would he pick me anyway? He’s perfect. I’m far from it. And we’re also in this long-distance thing where we talk everyday on appointment-basis. Which means, he calls and talks to me for twenty minutes on the daily. And that I’m supposed to be thankful for it. And he says I’m supposed to be happy he doesn’t cheat on me, even though all the women at work throw themselves at him.

My hands itch to find a fresh new razor.

I kind of started cutting myself when I was with another man, before him. Stopped when I met this guy, but he turned out to be the exact same piece of trash in a different meat-suit, and the whole process started again. I don’t cut myself in obvious places. Only my thighs. We’ve never had sex with the lights on, and he’s never paid attention to my scars. And when we meet, once in a while, they’re almost healed anyway. Sometimes I feel like I’m an abomination that can’t be loved. That everything about me is wrong and dirty and unworthy of someone’s time. That men only ever want to be with me because I’m something that must be pitied upon. Hot tears blind my eyes and revulsion rises inside of me like bilious vomit for even daring to think of myself with so much self-pity – and at the same time, I ask myself why am I even here. If I had a gun, I would have blown my own brains out years ago. Nobody would have known. Not till the apartment started to reek and someone ended up calling the authorities to investigate.

I fantasize about death, a lot. An unhealthy awful lot.

I find a shiny new blade and start tracing the word LOSER on to my right thigh. I’m calm when I have open wounds. I’ve always been this calm when placing calculated obvious incisions at the morgue too. Cutting myself is a whole different rush. And it heals me and it calms me down. I look at the clock. Two hours have passed and I’ve been exactly a year older for two whole hours and I never noticed.

I pat LOSER dry but she continues to bleed.

The “Omnivore” Debate

The “Omnivore” Debate

Humans were primarily vegetarian, did you know that? This whole omnivore thing came into being because that’s what we concluded, as per our convenience.

A few pointers that actually stress on the point that Homo sapiens sapiens were actually meant to be vegetarian:

• Lack of pointy AF canines. We only have tiny little baby canines.

• The presence of the vermiform appendix which now exists for the sole purpose of causing you pain, but actually played a key role in ancient history when man most certainly ate the bark of trees and different forms of cellulose.

• The fact that you don’t see a dead chicken carcass and automatically go OMG I want to eat it.

I think the meat thing happened by accident. Man discovered fire, and some animal fell into it and it must have smelled good or whatever and steak was discovered. I’m kidding.

Before this thing gives me angina, I’m going to retire for the night. This was also probably the most half-a**ed post I’ve done in a long time. Between headaches and work and having to deal with grown up children that don’t belong to my body, I’ve really had a rough day. Anyway. Is it just me, or are chicken wings hella tempting and maybe I should go back to eating them?

Also, what do you think of the whole man was designed to be someone that ate a plant-based diet debate?

PMS.

PMS.

I’m supposed to be correcting my students’ papers. I can’t focus. There’s a horrible dull ache right under my tits and it’s driving me nuts. Why’s cyclical mastalgia a real thing? Why do I have to deal with it every month?

Premenstrual syndrome is a nightmare. I know Aunt Flow has almost reached V-town – I’m bloated, craving chocolate at three in the morning and my husband is still out. On a Friday night. That lousy, cheating scum.

I know he’s cheating on me.

I can’t even correct these papers anymore. I want to rip out my hair, all my hair, from the roots. I want to scream bloody banshee screams, and I want to throw boiling hot water over whoever cow he’s shagging at three am on a weekend night. I’m gonna cry.

I definitely know he’s cheating on me.

So he has a piercing in one ear, right? And I got him this little stud to wear and he’s switched it up. I remember him replacing it with one of those guy hoops that f*ckboys wear. Oh, he’s cheating on me. I’m sure some girl gave him this hoop thing. I hate it. I hate the little stones on it. I want to beat her into a unrecognizable pulpy mess. The nerve.

I hate this. I hate being home alone and working. I’m craving chocolate mousse.

I’m just gonna walk to the fridge before my ovaries and my brains split. And awesome, there’s only health crap in there. Who wants a freaking salad at this time of night? UGHHHHHHH.

Oh look, he’s FaceTiming.

Okay, so he’s at work and he’s going to be home in fifteen. Definitely not cheating. Just working. I looked carefully. He’s in office and there’s nobody around. I made him show me around. Poor thing. Must be so hard on him, you know? All of this. This marriage. To this crazy witch.

Zephyr

Zephyr

It was one of those extremely hot summer days. Forty degrees, zero chances of rain, scorching hot, bad enough to make you dehydrate in a jiffy.

She’d been driving for two hours and the AC had broken down. That business meeting probably did not go well. That lunch didn’t do much except leave a bitter taste in her mouth. As if that wasn’t enough, she saw her ex and a group of his friends walk into the club and trash her openly amongst themselves. She’d left in a hurry. They’d broken up ages ago, and he resented her, every fiber of her being, and he made her want to die everyday. He’s brought out the bad in her and she hated herself when she was with him and she had no one to blame.

And now, a failed career and a slew of failed treatments later, she was fighting to survive and fight for others just like her. She adjusted the headscarf and her sunglasses and concentrated on her driving. Ten minutes later, her car ran out of juice, and she made it to the nearest gas station just in time.

Not a single leaf seemed to be quivering. It was that quiet and that still. She got a refill and got back on the road. She was growing tired and couldn’t really drive anymore, so she parked the car in the first empty patch of land she could find. It felt like a total desert. The trees looked dead and ghostly. She felt her head spin from the heat, so she took off the headscarf, and forced herself to sit on the bonnet. As she blotted her bald head with some Kleenex, her phone vibrated.

It was a new email from the investors she’d met with earlier. They said they were interested in her pitch and that women with no homes to go to and women who had carcinomas and felt like they had nothing to live for definitely needed someplace that felt like home. She’d been promised six months and she wanted to put in everything she had and give people hope. Which was precisely why she’d come back to her tiny town and made the decision of investing in shelter for needy women.

She smiled to herself as the zephyr blew in like a breath of new life.

PS: Whoa. I actually completed the A to Z challenge without embarrassing myself too much. Give me a five!!

Xenomania

Xenomania

Everyday, she would check her bank balance to see if the numbers were growing and if she’d made enough.

She would tell herself all the time that at twenty seven, she was too much of a free-spirited woman to be tied down to one spot, and everyday, her boss would remind her that she wasn’t. That she needed this cubicle and this job and the money. And she bore it all, with a tight-lipped smile.

She sighed as she looked at the list of Airbnb’s she’d favorited, and told herself she would one day, eventually, see the Pink City. And the rest of India. She’d been obsessed with the country, the customs, the lifestyles, the food, for as long as she could remember.

And one day it happened.

A million hour long flight, and a million layovers and a mile long line later, she finally took an Uber to get to her destination. She didn’t even make it halfway, she didn’t get to leave the capital.

The last thing she remembered was the knife, and she felt a lot of pain, and she remembered thinking how xenomania had eventually managed to kill her spirit after all.