I am a huge fan of Alexander McCall Smith's series of books about the Botswanan lady detective Precious Ramotswe, all of which are truly a joy to read. McCall Smith's deceptively simple prose somehow succeeds in bringing me on a journey to a place--surely partly imaginary--where life is simple and so is the ethical code, which is based on a lovely notion of traditional values. Precious Ramotswe often finds herself in difficult quandaries, but she always chooses the path that shows care and respect for others while maintaining her own dignity. That may sound boring or too moralistic, but believe me when I say that these books are refreshing, sincere, and completely uncynical.
So to inaugurate my new series of Synaesthetic adventures--blueprints for little themed adventures for all your senses--I give you my plan for a very nice afternoon that challenges all your senses. Put the pot on, and brew some nice Rooibos tea. I like it with milk and a tiny bit of sugar, but you can have it plain, put some masala in it, or just load it up with sugar, like Mma Ramotswe does. Have it alone, or with a side of watermelon or peanuts, or, if you are feeling super expansive, you could make yourself a fruitcake (Mma Ramotswe loves cake).
Play one of my favorite--and one of the most sincere--bands, Amadou and Mariam, who are from Mali, not Botswana. Any album will do; I love these two. Spritz on something nice and unique--I recommend Benetton's Tribù, not because it sounds vaguely 'ethnic' (and typically Benetton) but it somehow works as a very lovely tea scent, and although Red Bush is not technically a tea, I believe it shares some qualities with the admittedly strange Tribù. If I had to describe this fragrance, I would have to say it is a peppery, spicy, vaguely woody, rosy/cedary tea scent, but if you haven't checked it out, do so, since it is both super cheap and very unusual.