“We never go anywhere without tea!”
Saying so she smiles widely from beneath a mop of sandy-coloured cork screw curls and a knitted Peruvian hat complete with incongruous Fairisle design.
“It’s chai really” he chimes, equally tanned and attractive in an un-scrubbed sort of a way, all blonde surfer hair under similar Andean headgear.
She begins to unscrew the lid of a fantastically patterned aluminium flask.
First steam emerges, then a smell which quickly fills the frosty railway carriage.
Sweet tea and South Asian spices in equal and syrupy measure.
Treacle ginger, desert-ready cardamom, apple-friendly cinnamon and a nutmeg that is just a little like fresh sweat.
A wooden tray, fragrant too, earthy and peppery, soon holds a small profusion of brightly painted metal cups, shimmering with images of purple saffron flowers and ripe mandarin oranges.
She grasps it with a steady hand, while he, in a confident well-practised gesture fills each receptacle with a long pour from a great height, cooling the milky liquid as it passes through the icy air, all the time creating more voluminous sugary vapour clouds.
They offer round the just-so portions to disinterested commuters on their way from home counties homes to city jobs in investment banking and contract law.
A few accept with nervous smiles.
Just as many refuse, suspicious and disdainful, unhappy that their train has been transformed into a humid sub-Continental tea room.
Our couple are unfazed by this froideur and left with half a dozen or so unclaimed gifts sigh collectively “Ah well, more for those who do!”
Sipping on your own measure of the heady brew, you wonder as to their relationship: so close and efficiently affectionate it seems too squeaky clean to be sexual.
Perhaps they are siblings, or six form soul-mates recently returned from a pre-university around the world adventure.
Yes, you decide, that must be it.
“It reminds us of India” she says breathing in the scent theatrically.
“Well, not strictly true…” he corrects her.
“… it inspires us on to India” he declares a tad grandly, supported by enthusiastic nods from his companion.
“It’s our dream to travel across the country by train….”
“… living only on tea and from tiffin boxes.” She says finishing his sentence.
They exchange more smiles, more flirtatious this time, and you realise this is a relationship on the cusp of more than merely geographical exploration.
With this realisation a certain cynicism within you, like uncomfortable trapped wind, shifts, and you find their hope brings temporary relief to your own sorry position.
The journey is nearing its short end. As the locomotive slows they speedily gather together their equipment.
With regret you return your emptied cup, the 8.52 comes to a shuddering halt.
In a moment the automated doors will open and the odour of happy anticipation that has enveloped you this last half hour will evaporate.
On the platform they wave goodbye cheerily, two tie-dyed points of brilliance, buoys on a sea of grey serge and suiting.
They slip away on a tide of busy in-a-hurry people and eventually disappear from sight.
Lifting a bag over your shoulder the cuff of your shirt brushes against your face.
It’s damp. You’ve spilt a little of the tea there where it is leaving a light coloured stain against the white cotton.
Sniffing the cloth, the now almond-like ambrosial scent returns, and with it something of their sunny disposition.
Perhaps optimism is an option after all.
Head down you set off for the tube.
No house is more committed to keeping tea in perfumery than Bulgari and Omnia is an Indian chai take on the universal refreshment.
Sweeter and a deal spicier than their other offerings this is a rather innocent and irrepressibly optimistic scent.
There are no velvet folds of complexity or furrowed brows so far as this perfume is concerned: it is a brilliant-eyed and bossily upbeat affair.
Whilst the instantly recognisable black leaf and milky sugar water note dominates, ginger plays a prominent role adding energy and vigour.
Other spices bring a degree of depth without ever allowing anything to get too serious: cardamom is sweet and desert-like, cinnamon pure apple pie.
Only the nutmeg, with a more human, physical edge that emerges in the heart, is able to convey a degree of maturity.
Whilst there is an undeniable white chocolate note, it alludes more to that confectionery’s almond and vanilla qualities than actual cocoa, especially when matched with guaiac, sandalwood and tonka bean in the base.
Omia is a pleasantly uncomplicated and insistently cheerful scent.
By no means great art, it has a charm akin to a well-crafted and humorous short story.
It will bring a smile, but probably does not bear detailed intellectual interrogation.
Oh, and of course, boys and girls will find delight in this undemanding aroma.
The Perfumed Dandy.