Tuesday, 30 July 2013

I Smell Nostalgia!

"Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you've lived."
-Helen Keller

The smell of chlorine wafts through the air, suddenly you recall childhood summers spent lazing by the swimming pool. Or maybe its a whiff of apple tart or the fragrance of the same perfume your grandmother used to wear or even the stench of petrol from a youth spent worshipping motorcycles. Our noses have a way of sniffing out nostalgia.
While all the senses are connected with memories, smell in particular sparks a flurry of emotional memories. Nearly everyone has experienced a moment when a faint fragrance brings a memory of a long lost moment lost 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. Its amazing that a few simple airborne molecules can trigger such vivid recollections.
I, being no exception, there is a lot of "smelly" stuff that take me back in time. 
Here's the 'Top-5' :

  • Smell of 'Play Dough': Yes, that smell of Play Dough takes me a long way back to kindergarten. Just a sniff, and all those sleeping memories wake up and bounce and crash around my head as I close my eyes and let the fragrance take me back to play-school. An array of memories start playing before my eyes; slightly greasy hands with bits in the fingernails, mixing all the colours together until they turned a dirty brown, rolling out lots of lopsided worms, and the tasting that resulted in a mouth full of inedible clay. 

  • The Aroma of a New Book: A book in any format may read the same but there is certainly something special about the smell of print that e-books simply cannot capture. The scent of physical books-the paper, the ink, the glue conjure up memories of a million afternoons spent reading by a fireplace as rain patters on the windowsill. Also, it reminds me of several weekends spent strolling down a bookstore, flipping pages (while taking a quick sniff)-that sensation is distilled and cataloged in my mind under that "new-book-smell".


  • The Odour of Rain (Petrichor): The scent of rain on earth generates an idiosyncratic exhilaration in my heart and soul. It is like inhaling energy and exhaling all the stress and sorrows, making me want to breeze through life. It brings out the kid in me, back in primary school deliberately hopping from one puddle to another, completely carefree. Sometimes, the essence of the first rains seduces me to pen down unexpressed emotions in a rhyme or unleash my passion on the canvas with colours reflecting the vivid moods that odour gets me into! 

  • Smelly Socks: True, socks in prolonged use stink like trash cans, yet a stinky pair in close vicinity doesn't stop me from rolling back in time to my glorious school days when my feet too have been wearers to some really foul-smelling socks (Yes, guilty as charged!)-days when lessons at the audio visual room, where we'd be required to take off our shoes would mean coping up with 48 pairs of smelly socks in one closed area. (What? You thought I was the only one? Nah!) 

  • Wax Crayons: Crack open a fresh box of wax crayons and get ready for a neuron splattering head rush! Crayons are a total "gateway" smell and sweeps me off to my craft closet as a kindergarten kid. With it I'm reminded of all the merry time spent making a masterpiece as I scribbled in my colouring book and how I'd hop around the entire house showing off my creation and bagging appreciation from every soul in sight!




The sense of smell, like a faithful counsellor, fortells its character.It can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind. We often tend to emphasise vision over all other senses but our sense of smell is important enough to evoke its own form of deja vu.

You're on earth for a short visit, don't hurry, don't worry, just smell life all the way. Perhaps the unpleasant smells we experience today will be associated with fond memories in years to come. 



This post has been written for a contest by AmbiPur India "Smelly to Smiley":