If you take a drive in the city, especially in the Medical College area and pockets in Chalai Bazaar, you can’t miss the Maldivian nationals moving around in flocks. Many of them are shopping for their choice perfumes and other cosmetics for use back in their native land. As Maldivians keep coming in large numbers, exclusive outlets for perfumes and other choice picks like traditional dress are mushrooming in select areas in the city. In Chalai Bazaar, the Ruby Nagar area is one such joint where you will find purdah clad elder women and chic teenagers checking out each exclusive shop stacked with perfumes.
Abdullah Wahad, a Maldivian national, says their countrymen have a big liking for perfumes from India. “We are the major consumers for variety perfumes from here and we have been shopping from here for years”, he says. Most of them splurge big amounts on scents and perfumes alone. Abdullah Wahad says he usually spends a minimum of ` 600 every month for a particular brand of 100 ml perfume bottle. “I didn’t realise this till I started keeping an account of my spending,” says Wahad.
Areefa Farook ,who works as a guide here for visiting Maldivians ,says it’s some sort of a shame for them to lap up low-priced stuff. She admits that the heavy spending has almost become a part of their lifestyle and splashing out on perfumes is no big deal. “It is a fact that most of us like to use a lot of perfume. It is also true that some people find it odd and don’t like our excessive use of perfume”, says Arfeefa, who is in her mid 30s.
The main reason behind the widespread use of perfumes is said to be the climatic compulsions in the sea rimming islets of the panoramic Maldives. According to Safavudeen Ameen, another Maldivian who patronises the Ruby Nagar, they visit only select shops in the city. “CD, Cartier, Joop and Polo are some brands we are accustomed to”, he says.
Maldivians arrive in herds in Thiruvananthapuram every year for medical treatment and education. “We are here basically for medical treatment, as the facilities in Maldives are meagre,” Areefa says. “Perfumes are something we cannot avoid. It is a part of us”, she adds.
A Shaji, an outlet owner in Ruby Nagar, says to meet the demand from Maldivian people he had set up a perfume shop five years ago. “I collected various brands they usually ask for. They are ready to pay anything for the perfumes if they like the fragrance,” he says.