Wednesday, August 7, 2013

(This is an entry for the “Ambi pur” contest, please read about it at:

                            The Nostril Nostalgia

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and the years you have lived”- how true are these words of Helen Keller...
                  The wanderlust took me far and wide, understanding the alien lands with its distinct smells but the infatuating odour of my motherland lured me back and here I embark on the nostalgia of the nostrils....
                      I stepped out of the air conditioned coach swathed in “ambi”ent “ambrosia of the “pur”e air, now out in the open, nature’s earthy fragrance took over , the smell of the dancing rain and the feel of the wind revived the glorious past and brought back vivid pictures .
“Smell has an impact on memory and cognitive functioning. It brings back pictures as sharp as real photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind”-Thalassa cruso
         I walked down the pathway, leading to my home , lined with roses and lilies drenched with dew drops, the air magical and the butterflies in symphony with myriad colours of nature sucking nectar to my infinite delight.
“As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round”- Ben Hogan
Amma, hugged me and the crisp starchy scent of her sari tingled my olfactory senses , she, as always had arranged the lovely flowers in the brass ‘urali’- truly sublime..Yes, appa very much with his newspaper on the old cane chair , my nose caught a dash of cologne mixed with the fresh paper print and cane.
“Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.”-Vladimir Nabokov
          But, stronger was the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee emanating from the kitchen and the longing heart ached for the morning cuppa to invigorate my soul.
To me the smell of fresh made coffee is one of the greatest inventions”- Hugh Jackman
         To pamper and repair my curly tresses, amma put some coconut oil to heat and added some rice with camphor and pepper to it , applying it on the hair was simply divine- one is on a high, so intoxicating..the water of periyar and the sandal soap cleansed  and soothed my nerves.
           I savoured the lip smacking breakfast of idli, vada dunked in sambhar and chutney washed down with pristine filter coffee- the olfactory sense prevails first and succeeds in making the eyes appreciate, messaging the brain “common try it out , it is tempting” and then tickling the taste buds!
“Senses are quicker to react than reason and the nose remembers more than the eyes!”
     The bookshelves in the home library beckoned me with open arms , the rustic wooden smell with the bewitching old book charm – classic to say the least.
“A book has got smell. A new book smells great. An old book smells even better. It smells like ancient Egypt.”- Ray Bradbury
Mesmerized in the world of pharaohs and pyramids, I rose like a phoenix to venture into the serene garden where the ripe jackfruit was ready to be plucked, the luscious mangoes , reminiscent of the bygone era . After a hectic spade and hose work, I smelled like the Earth itself.
“In the spring , at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”- Margaret Atwood.
          It was time for some shopping and appa loaded his wallet with wads of the Indian rupee to splurge on his daughter’s whims and fancies as I stood transfixed taking in the redolence of the material paper money!
“Money does not smell of the mire whence it came , it has the glorious scent of what will be”- Catulle Mendes.
Meanwhile , the motley crowd of the spiritual and the religious had gathered for the “Narayaneeyam” session with amma as the spiritual head. The puja room blissfully decorated in strings of colourful flowers and the air quickly changing to that of whimsical incense sticks, camphor and ‘sambrani’. The sweet aroma of concoction of ‘pal payasam’ offered as ‘neivedyam’ to the lord was reason enough for the creator of the universe to step into our humble abode to taste our own manna!
    The lunch spread on the green plantain leaf was a connoisseur’s delight- each item distinct on the palette, unique in sight and smell!
     Afternoon siesta was a welcome one for two wholesome reasons- one being the fully loaded tummy and the other, the alluring perfumed freshly laundered bed linen- snuggled cosily in the cool comforts with the mystical rain in the background.
      The magnificent aroma of hot tea with banana fritters aroused me from my deep slumber and I did justice to the maxim ‘live to eat’. As the Sun set , the lavender air wick hypnotized and kept me spellbound! All the perfumes around my house have sweetened these wonderful thoughts of my dear and near! Every home has its identity by its characteristic unmistakable smell that is indeed balmy to the tired soul!
“A good fragrance is really a powerful cocktail of memories and emotion.”- Jeffrey Stepakoff
Urali- the round flat vessel made of brass
Idli,vada, sambar and chutney- south Indian dishes
Narayaneeyam- verses for Lord Vishnu
Neivedyam- Prasad or offering to God

Pal payasam- kheer made of milk and rice