Blossoms & Beauty

Blossoms & Beauty
'Phoolproof' by Jhelum Biswas Bose, Photo Credit: Andaz

Discussions and tasting notes accompanied this beginner’s guide to Indian flowers

Nayanika Mukherjee
September 29 , 2019
03 Min Read

Former Harper’s Bazaar beauty editor Jhelum Biswas Bose recently unveiled her book Phoolproof at Andaz Aerocity. An introductory volume on the traditions, usage and myths surrounding Indian blooms, the launch was supplemented by floral experiences curated under the Andaz Salon series.

Left to right: Mamta Gupta of Zariin jewellery; filmmaker Yasmin Kidwai; beauty blogger Sumiran Kashyap; the author, Jhelum Biswas Bose; supermodel and grooming consultant Nayanika Chatterjee; and Ayurveda expert Dr Ipsita Chatterjee at the launch

A panel discussion greeted visitors as they walked into Studio 3 of the luxury hotel. Garlands and floral installations decked the room, as wine and gin tasting counters—the latter featuring bottles from the hotel’s Juniper Bar—sat invitingly. We were also rather distracted by the food counters. With visually-stunning appetisers, dessert, and a wall of pretty doughnuts—all laced with flowers in varying degrees—it was hard not to steal occasional glances. Once the talk began, though, we gained new-found respect for the tuliped grape tomatoes near the aisle.

Bose, alongside celebrity speakers like supermodel Nayanika Chatterjee and filmmaker-politician Yasmin Kidwai, introduced visitors to the curious world of Bach flower remedies, potent essential oils and the heritage connection between flowers and the Bengali community. Ayurveda expert Ipsita Chatterjee also shared her exact (and impressive) knowledge of botany and local floral etymology.  

We’ll admit our interest started to wane when talk of chakras arose with the author, but a quick flip through the book kept things interesting. 

Phoolproof is divided into five sections. The first four cover myths; the link between essences and emotions; scents and sensuality; and the importance of blooms in beauty and wellness. The concluding chapter strings together intriguing, floral-infused recipes. Hibiscus, marigold, bougainvillea, butterfly pea and the Indian rose feature prominently. 

The book is also dotted with floral poetry by Bose, has several personal anecdotes thrown in, and is in simple, conversational prose that keeps things accessible.

Having said that, we’re not sure about how much of the book’s healing tips and tricks we’d actually implement in our day-to-day lives. If you’re one of the uninitiated (like us), you’d expect an impersonal, and almost leaning-towards-the-scientific tome on Indian flowers. And you’d definitely want citations or sources for clarification. But excluding the food and drink recipes (and the au naturel facial treatments), the book leans uncomfortably on Bose and her friends’ firsthand knowledge of the domain, which doesn’t feel substantial enough. Some of the phrasing is vague, and on one occasion, a question is left completely unanswered. Readers, therefore, may want more than one social circle’s stamp of approval when it comes to this kind of experimentation, since flowers like lavender—or even small vials of essential oil—don’t come cheap. 

Nevertheless, with its pretty cover and 200-something page count, Phoolproof is the perfect gift for that rich aunt you meet every Diwali. 

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