Khaleeji Bombai

This ittar perfume boutique next door to Cafe Mondegar and less than five hundred meters from the Gateway of India was a remainder of the Gulf which was the informal raj of the empire ruled from Bombay Presidency. Ajmal, a perfumery from Dubai with roots in Assam, has a loyal Arabic clientele. It was like entering a space time compression in the Gulf, such as the Ajmal store I grew up next door in Al Khuwair in Masqat.

I asked for a well-known ittar which my Baba was fond of and has yearned for since his retirement. I found a close analogue and his smile upon smelling the ittar was beyond any cost.

The area in Colaba has a history of an Arab Bombay next to the coast. There was a settled Arab merchant community in south Bombay until oil made the Gulf the site of a gold rush. The Kuwaiti Government support an Arabic language school as well. Pune is a popular destination for education and Mumbai for medical treatment with Jaslok a popular choice with Gulf nationals.

The sales professionals were fluent in Arabic and the clients were all Gulf nationals with Gahwa and Dates served like back in the Khaleej. The olfactory sensory scape was like Bayt.

Chants of khamsa miya, sitta miya and wahid did make my heart go back to Muscat again, a home that I lost in 2019.

Transnational spaces pay homage to shared histories.

The Ajmal Store served Gahwa and Dates