Scents bring memories, and many memories bring nostalgic pleasure. We would be wise to plan for this when we plant a garden. – Thalassa Cruso, To Everything There is a Season, 1973
Scent of newly mown hay. The fragrance of Jasmine. Aroma of sizzling hot Bhajji. Perfume of roses. The redolence of fresh brewn coffee. Sweet smell of biscuits and cakes. The nostalgic smell of an old paper turned yellow. The smell of boiling milk.
Sweet smell of the soil after a shower. The fresh scent from a new notebook page. The holy smell of Sambhrani smoke. Smell of freshly washed and ironed clothes. Smell of shampoo. The combined smell of Plantain leaves, flowers and fruits before a festival. The combined smell of camphor, agarbathi and flowers in a temple.
The smell of Oggarane*. The aroma of roasted Jeera.The combined smell of Ghee and Elaichi while making a sweet. The aroma emanating when you boil Butter before it becomes Ghee. The aroma while making Onion Uppitt.
The scent of a fresh baby diaper. The raw smell of a leather ball. The healing smell of Vicks inhalation. The pleasant smell of Masala tea. The aroma of Pakodas emanating from a roadside stall. The strong smell of Petrol, Dettol and Crackers. The fresh smell of wood at a carpenter’s workplace.
Can you think of more?
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I remember reading as a kid to blindfold a friend and hold a piece of Orange near his nose and put a piece of Apple into his mouth. Ask him what he is eating. And he says, “Orange”! I tried this and it happened exactly this way.
Most people just think of the tongue when they think about taste. But you couldn’t taste anything without some help from the nose! The ability to smell and taste go together because odors from foods allow us to taste more fully.
Take a bite of food and think about how it tastes. Then, pinch your nose and take another bite. Notice the difference? It’s just another reason to appreciate your knockout of a nose!
Nearly everyone has experienced a moment when a faint fragrance brings a memory of a long-lost moment in time crashing back to the forefront of their minds.
Often we will have forgotten about the event completely, yet it transpires our unfathomable minds have filed it neatly in some unreachable corner of the brain, primed for instant retrieval.
It may be the perfume worn by a long-forgotten friend, the stench of petrol from a youth spent worshipping motorcycles, the smell of smoke coming from burning leaves or the haze of chlorine from summer months lazing by the pool.
It is amazing that a few simple airborne molecules can trigger such vivid recollections. Your sense of smell warns you of dangers such as smoke and poisonous gases. It also helps you appreciate the full flavours of food and drink. I read that our sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than our sense of taste.
Childhood memories represent times when we were free from the responsibilities and anxieties of adulthood, so we may redefine them in an idealised way, even though many of the experiences we went through were difficult at the time.
Human beings tend to emphasise vision over all other senses, but our sense of smell is important enough to evoke its own form of déjà vu. Perhaps the foul and strange smells we experience today will be associated with fond memories in years to come.
(By the way, Anosmia is the loss of sense of smell.)
* Frying of Coriander leaves, Mustard, Jeera, Channa Dal, Urad Dal, Asafoetida (Hing) with Oil