It began strangely. Even bizarrely.

On a whim in Shinjuku I had gone into a Turkish restaurant for dinner one evening, in that mood for meat richness and flavour. And when the first order came, the waitress  (I was the only customer ) came over, and wondered, politely, if I wouldn’t mind taking a look at this picture:


I sat there at the table, a strange rabbit hole of recognition and bafflement. Why was this lady giving me a picture I knew so well and had used, here, myself on the Black Narcissus? For a second I felt I was in the middle of some cosmic trick, before I realized that she had written a poem to the picture in order to practice her English and wondered if I could check it. Yes, of course, I said, I am a teacher, I would be glad to; but first let me show you this (and I got out my phone, batteries about to die, and showed her this blog post on Creed’s Iris Tubereuse; I am a perfume nut, and I write about scent. Oh my god she said, clutching her hand to her mouth, so am I. You have no idea how many vintage perfume shops there are in Tokyo. Oh yes I do, I said, look at this Chanel in my bag, and look at all these amazing samples I got today from Parfums Satori. Well look at this, she said, and proceeded to look for a picture on her own phone of the very same Coty Chypre perfume I have written about before myself, still in the shop, still unaffordable for us both.We should share secret places, the recycle shops no one knows about, I said, or then maybe we shouldn’t, maybe we should keep them to ourselves. Oh no, she said, much better to share.So that is what we are going to do, me and Zubeyde. I will take her to the fleamarket and some boutiques she doesn’t know. She says there are a whole load of boutiques selling old unwanted scents in the snaking, urban labyrinth that is Shinjuku. And yesterday : a picture came from her, like a secret agent, taken in the shop, of a boxed parfum of Guerlain’s Nahéma. There is virtually no other parfum I want that badly. She is going to go back and check the price again, scope out the joint further.

We are in cahoots.

I love it.


Filed under Flowers


  1. There is nothing better then being in cahoots with someone who shares a passion. How wonderful the universe allowed you to find one another!

  2. jennyredhen

    I want to come over. i LOVE that perfume… do you think she can find some Chamade as well?? Next time i am in Tokyo I am combing shinjuku. I suppose these perfume boutiques are all hidden behind drab doors or on the 2nd and 3rd floors of unassuming looking buildings.. why is everything so hidden in Japan!!

  3. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    And the poem?
    This is one of those most wonderful it-had-to-be meetings in life! Double cahoots!

  4. That’s very cool, and not a little eerie! Zübeyde’ye merhaba.

  5. I love it too even though I wasn’t there in the first place and am not in cahoots. I love these kind of chance circumstances that end up as a meeting of like minds. These things happen to me more often than the should…although it is usually not about perfume. Nevertheless it is always intriguing and makes one wonder how people end up crossing each other’s paths–especially people with some sort of connection even though they never knew each other. I really love your blog and look forward to it. Keep us posted.

  6. lilybelle

    I love it! It’s great to have a perfume buddy to be in cahoots with. 🙂

    • To be honest, Z is my first in Japan. Hence our great mutual excitement. But SHOWING me a photo of something I thought I only knew about myself (stupidly, naively), was rather wonderful. It was an experiential explosion. And I was still trying to eat my dinner.

  7. Such fabulous serendipity!! How wonderful to have a fragrant buddy to hunt vintage shops with. Please, oh please, take me round to some of them when I come over. I just would love to find a treasure there.

  8. ninakane1

    What a fantastic encounter. I love meetings like that!

    • You probably have them quite often, I would imagine. But when that picture was put before me, I genuinely felt like I had lost a grip on reality, because firstly

      a) waitresses don’t usually make you look at a picture
      b) they don’t expect you to check a poem they have written on it (and why would a person be doing that anyway?)
      c) it is a picture you know, intimately, yourself, but cannot recognize at first and are thus sublimated in some kind of galactic Lynchian soup where you lose a grip for a couple of seconds ( I genuinely felt as though I was being tricked in some way at first: WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? but you know me, I live for the dream life, always, so was ultimately far more thrilled and baffled than anything else)and then
      d) the mutual perfume thing was exposed
      e)WHILE i was eating my dinner.

      = excitable headfuck extraordinaire

      I haven’t quite been able to write about it until now

  9. TuskAnny

    Simply wonderful Neil ! You probably deserve all this (in the Big Scheme ) 😉 Because not only do you leave in a place where vintage perfume is a concept made real, but you also manage to encounter most unexpectedly what highly appears as an “agent” for that matter… Thank you for sharing this delicious anecdote. My day is starting very well !

  10. TuskAnny

    And yes… the poem ? What about it ?

  11. TuskAnny

    I meant that you LIVE in a place…

  12. Iuno Feronia

    Wonderful coincidence. Reminds me of a writing of Haruki Murakami, maybe such things especially in Japan.

  13. Iuno Feronia

    …. especially in Japan. Sorry

  14. Persolaise

    Too late. I have flown to Japan and bought the Nahema.


  15. veritas

    The wonders of the universe…things always happen for a reason, my dear……

  16. Oh My God! I Love this!!!! How cool is that?! And must have been so unexpected (and all the more fun for being unexpected!). Ok- too many exclamation points..:)

  17. Must have felt so surreal! Ok- I couldn’t resist one more exclamation.

    • It WAS surreal. The moment when I sat looking at the picture in my hands was quite disorientating.

      Ironically, my computer’s exclamation mark key has broken so I can’t put any in myself, else I would.

  18. orsetta

    yes, bizarre and surreal but truly fantastic! I’m so happy for both of you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s