Friday, February 11, 2011

I smell something.....

It's amazing how many smells we come across just in a single day. Savory food smells, the scent of a hundred and one perfumes (not that all of them are good-smelling), the antiquated smell of old books or for that matter anything that your nose can pick up.

Another thing that surprises me is the way our brains are wired to the smells we encounter. In many ways, we are very similar to Pavlov's dogs!!! For those wondering what those are; these dogs responded to a bell by salivating, because over time, they had realized, that the bell was followed by food!! It is interesting that a human being during the course of his lifetime becomes conditioned to different things and reacts to it based on his previous encounters.

I realize that a lot of people will not like being compared to a dog and would be like "SO whats your point?". To them I ask, how many of them have smelt home-cooked meals and been reminded of their mothers or their childhood homes or just their childhood for that matter??? I have, and I think always will be. And for someone who has an extremely strong sense of smell, I would say it is difficult for me to stay in the real world, because every time I smell something, I am transported to that time and place of life. Just yesterday my one of my coworkers used a mango scented hand lotion, and I was already thinking about the hot Indian summer. I closed my eyes just for a minute and believe me when I say, that I was back to my childhood, visualizing the mango juice dripping down our chins and the huge mango stains on all our summer dresses. I could envision my mother and aunts enjoying the pickling process for raw mangoes. It was a few minutes before I realized where I was. And its not just mangoes, if you think I am obsessed with them. 

Everybody knows how it rains in India and how the monsoons are. No matter how much we crib about the flooding and the potholes, no one can deny saying that the first drop of rain on the dry, scorching ground smells like heaven. It is that first rain of the season that leaves you with a refreshing aroma of wet soil. I had never thought that I would be cliched enough to talk about "apne desh ki mitti ki khushboo", but i can't help being reminded of those wonderful rainy days, whenever I smell dust and soil getting wet. Those days enjoying "chat, bhutta, samosa and yaari-dosti at the chai ki tapri". Although, I will admit that its not the same here, since there isn't a speck of dirt, and for once, I have longed and longed for dust, just to experience that exhilarating feeling of a drop of rain on dusty grounds.

Now that I have proven beyond doubt that I have an overly sensitive nose, I think I have said enough to prove my point. I think life is all about stopping to 'smell the roses' as many people say, or for me "just stop to inhale the wonderful smells" and make wonderful memories out of it. Because years later, when you have forgotten all about that moment, it will be that smell which will take you down memory lane and give you that warm, fuzzy feeling of being a child, of being young again, of being surrounded by family, friends or just your countrymen. So, next time you visit a library, enjoy the smell of old, yellowing  pages; or next time you open a new book, take a moment to soak in the fresh smell of new ink on paper; and it will be sure to take you back to your childhood when getting new books, brown paper and labels was like an event for the family. Enjoy the little joys in life and the bigger issues will automatically fade away, with the scent of happiness, if I may say so!!! 

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