Monday, July 21, 2008


They say that the olfactory sense is the strongest and most primal and sensitive.
So, here I am, trying to recall smells (favourite fragrances, odious odours, whatever) from my childhood. Not an easy job, because my nose knows not what to recall.

One smell I recall is of milk burning as Sabitadi (our daily help) patiently stirred the milk and sugar in a thick-bottomed pan to make ghano-doodh (condensed milk) for my dadu (grandfather) every evening for his supper (He would insist on his nightly quota of ghano-doodh, even if he had to mix it up with khichdi (spicy rice-lentil-vegetable-mash).

One of my favourite smells was (don't go yuck) the smell of cowdung cakes used to light fires in the clay-ovens used to cook food. I would save bits of these cakes and put them in a used tin of black Cherry-Blossom shoe-polish (another smell I just loved). What a weird combination that was!

Another more uncomplicated (but maybe equally weird) smell which I loved was the smell of raw kerosene. I would hang round my mother whenever she would sit down with all the lanterns and kerosene lamps (used during the inevitable daily powercuts) to clean the glass covers (which would get darkened with soot) and refill them with kerosene poured through a dark green plastic funnel.

There I go, though! My memory is definitely more visual than olfactory.



Anonymous said...

Petrol - I am loving it.
Armpit...he he he

lopamudra said...

I vividly remember the smell of earth after the first shower,it was heavenly!I also loved the smell of old books.

ugich konitari said...

From almost 55 years ago. The smell of bath water heating in a special copper vessel, fired with wood, in the early hours of the morning; the smell emanating from the kitchen where the "amti" is being set in motion with a kadhipatta and green mirchi tadka; the smell that pervaded around when my grandmother lit the "ghee niranjans" for pooja; the special "Pune" smell that begins once you have traveled up the ghats into a drier area, leaving sweaty Mumbai behind.

Just too many smells to mention and many more memories....

arpita said...

Let me see now....the Sunday morning smell of burning incense sticks combined with my Maa's freshly bathed smell (Clinic shampoo + Mysore Sandal Soap + Cuticura Powder )pervading the whole house.

The "right out of the press" smell of "Anandamela Puja Barshiki" (An annual publication of short stories, poems, animation stories and so much more published around Durga Puja)which invariably brought the Puja feel for me as a 10 year old, Bengali girl.

The heady combination of cigarette with Old Spice Aftershave and that typical "Baba" smell when Dad rubbed his cheek against mine, every schoolgoing (and also any holiday )morning.
Aah, Sucharita, you unleash such memories that its difficult to stop. I think I will put it all down in my blog and wait for your comments!!

Peter Rozovsky said...

Freshly cut grass on our lawn!
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

sukku said...

1.I like the smell of earth after a downpour.
2. Smell of new books
3. Smell of Petrol
4. Smell of Chicken roasting in the oven

Lazyani said...

I guess to each his own. To me its the smell of the first rain soaked earth, the smell of a new oiled cricket bat and the heady natural smell of my mother after she had had her bath. Hmmn!! How time flies!!!

Niladri said...

When i was little and still not-so-conscious, I just loved to stick my nose near the opening of the petrol tank of any car or scooter...the smell of raw petrol...aahhhh!! Also, certain scents have remained associated with some people, like Johnson's Baby products for my kid, cake baking in the oven with my mom, fresh chandan-bata with my mamabari, scent of new books with my dad, the scent of jui-phool with my dadubari in Jhargram, smell of jaba-kusum oil with my dadu, smell of snuff/nosshi with my other dadu....the list goes on!!
And of course, like a proper sniffer-dog, i always associate good food with food that smells good!!

tina said...

dungcakes?? ... well, they're your memories, anyway. ^^;;

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks for the nosey memories, everybody.