Nag Champa is not good incense, though many good and sincere people are of the impression it is.
I grant you, it smells better than burnt sawdust, perhaps “good” is relative. In much the way that well Gin is better than, say, rubbing alcohol, a delightful romp with a neurotic coke-thin feme picked up at 2:00am, at the Northside Tavern, beats an extended bout of celibacy (or tricking with sketchy sidewalk ladies found at Race & Findlay at 4:00am), and a frisch’s big boy fish sandwich beats fish sticks between wonder bread, hands down.
But Nag Champa is not good incense. It is passable…
Quickly produced by blissed-out, glaze-eyed, brainwashed acolytes of “Satya” Sai Baba in little workshops in rural India. If you want good incense however, allow me to suggest “Metro”.
Metro brand Agarbatti Incense sticks, produced in Karachi, possess a subtle aroma, a mix of sandalwood, rose, and hints of jasmine and musk. You can recognize it by its delightful logo, a fey and innocent looking white kitten. Wouldn’t you rather buy incense packaged with a cute kitten on the cover, rather than with a small pic of Sai Baba, and stylishly voluminous Afro?
I thought so.
Madhuban, an Indian import, isn’t too bad either, and has many varieties. But I prefer Metro.
Morning Star, a Japanese variety, is also quite good. Japanese and Chinese Joss Stick style incense has a unique feature, no wood substrate. When you burn it you smell the pure scent of the incense materials, without the scent of the burning wood stick.
Typical of the Japanese, they take the art of incense to heights unreached by other nations. I’m serious, Japanese incense kicks ass. Exquisite scents and exquisite packaging combine for a veritable orgasm for your eyes and nose. Stuff is so pretty that one fears actually burning it..
There is always the traditional standby of Frankincense burned upon charcoal.
Former Catholics might wake up with bad memories of sunday mass with this one, but I love the stuff. There is also the old Arabian “bakhour” standby of Oud – raw agarswood – on burnt charcoal. Eminently civilized. This is an old favorite in the gulf and Arabia. Nothing matches the smell of oud and frankincense combined. Trust me on this one. Oud is worth its weight in gold. Oud is better than sex. Good Oud is the king of perfume and incense, one must experience it once in one’s life.
So there you go, you have choices. Empowering choices. Burning Nag Champa makes your flat smell like a dopehead’s den, burning good incense makes it smell like heaven, or a reasonable simulacrum thereunto.
So don’t burn cheap stuff.
Metro Incense – import inquires may be directed to Messrs. Amin Yunus & Co., in c/o METRO AGARBATTI CO. F-106, Hub River Road, S.I.T.E., Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
Phone: +92 21-2564213
(nb: the neat smoke picture Image taken by Kim van Zyl, for the south african agency for science and technology, used without permission for non commercial reasons…