Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ancient Inspiration

Shisha, Sahleb and Rose Incense
My visit to Ancient Jerusalem on Christmas Eve was an inspiring olfactory whirlwind: thick smoke of rose incense at the Church of Holy Sepulchre filled the air with an unusual festive sweetness. In the shaded, arched under-covered narrow streets, vendors sold hot mint tea and Arab coffee and warm sahleb, sprinkled with cinnamon, coconut and crushed roasted peanuts. Under my feet, the smooth and cold cobblestones polished by millions of pilgrims over the course of well over 2,000 years and emitting a damp, dusty coolness that is unique to this particular rock. And sweet shisha smoke wanders among the narrow paths, inviting us to sit among shesh-besh (backgammon) players for a little tobacco and tea break at mid-day.

This could the beginning, or the end, of my perfume.

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