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Thursday, 20 April 2017

#AtoZChallenge - 4-19-2017 - Letter P

P for Perfume

Getting into the lift in the morning, I am assailed by a whiff of perfume, left behind by an unseen previous occupant. For someone with a sharp nose, literally and figuratively, a condominium at any time of the day is a host of scents and smells---sometimes pleasant, and sometimes, not so much! In the morning rush hour, there is a bouquet of perfume, aftershave and deodorant. I am almost certain the regulars can name the floor by the scent!

There are also appetising smells of breakfasts and packed lunches. Invariably, there is the unmistakable aroma of parathas griddled in ghee ---it takes me back to my childhood when we would not know calories if they were served up to us in tiffin boxes---which they were! Potato curry with tweaks here and there seems to be a regular on our floor. Around lunch time, if I leave home on an errand, I can follow the trail of fluffy phulkas ballooning up over a flame in the houses around mine.

Funnily, when I am cooking, I am hardly aware of the tang and flavour of my dishes, but people coming in from outside invariably ask, “What’s cooking?” I guess the outside is more redolent with appetising odours, than the inside of the house. Maybe the chimneys and exhaust fans are doing their job too well!

Sensitive nostrils are not a boon when the smells are unpleasant---like the time when garbage is being collected. I swear, I could do without unwillingly identifying coffee grounds and iffy milk packets! At such times, I find my nose too sharp for comfort!

I recently came across a long forgotten fragrance: sambraani. It is a tree resin, which comes in dried lumps. In the days before hair sprays and conditioners, sambraani was used to perfume freshly washed hair with a spicy essence. The resin lumps were placed on smoking coal embers and a reed or straw basket would be upturned over them. Then, one could lie down with one’s long hair spread over the basket and the smoke would waft into the hair, infusing it with that tantalising scent.

Fragrance plays a very large part in nostalgia!


  1. My older daughter has an extremely sensitive nose. Dish washing detergent and clothes washing detergent bother her. For me, honeysuckle is a nostalgic smell. We had a huge bush behind our house.

    Q is for Quintinshill Rail Disaster

    1. Thank you Tamara for dropping by! Yes, i don't like some detergent smells either. But as long as she is not allergic, I guess it is okay! :)
      I have never smelt honeysuckle, only read about it in books! Maybe one day we can access scents over the Net!