My Olfactory Nostalgia

I have always admired people with those really nice noses, you know. No no, not the pretty, pointed ones, the ones who can actually smell that smell.

I had a friend, who had a cousin, who could just smell the food cooked and figure out if the salt in it was enough. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I mean, rely on olfactory glands, to figure out whether the salt is fine or not…I keep thinking how easy her life is, as far as cooking perfectly, is concerned eh?. Gah! I couldn’t do that, even if I lick the food from my fingers. Ask me, afterwards, if salt was enough and I will beΒ ‘huh? what?’

I was sitting the other day morning, with my 3 minutes of peace before mayhem breaks in the household, taking a deep breath of the wonderful (ahem!) filter coffee in my hand. That smell, I tell you, is so wonderful, and soΒ invigoratingΒ that I have no words to describe it!

Then I got a bit senti and stuff and started thinking about Baroda where Amma Appa would try all tricks in the book to wake us up, but that smell of fresh decoction poured into just-now-boiled milk would be enough to wake up bro and I up in a jiffy, for sure!

My mind went into a trip down the nostalgia lane and I remembered…

…in January, it was all about ‘Undhiyu’. The freshed plucked corriander, mixed with the heavenly smelling green garlic pods, ground with not-so-spicy green chillies and freshly grated coconut to make the most amazing base for one of the best dishes from Gujarat. And then the smell of jaggery being melted to make some awesome chikkis…

…in February, it was saying good bye to the yummy ponk mixed with spicy sev, with a dash of lime… March, it was the smell of the freshly burnt Holi fire that lingered in the air till the next day morning, when you got up to colour yourself silly. The burnt coconuts taken out from the Holi fire and eaten as prasad, tasted divine with the sweetness of the inner kernel and the slight bitterness due to the burnt shell April, it was all about tangy, spicy, green mangoes. From Rajapuris to totapuris, the entire house would be smelling of tangy, sour mangoes, which I would devour like crazy..and then the smell of parijat flowers in the evening, as the hot breeze would deliver the smell from the garden into the house! May, it was chundo time. Amma and C ben would spend the entire day grating those huge huge Rajapuri mangoes, and then Amma would mix it with sugar, add some salt and tie a cloth over it and tell bro and me, to keep it in the terrace to sun dry. Have you ever smelt the chundo when its in the process of being made?…its like the bestest smell ever! And then, of course the ripe mangoes..eaten as mangoes, as aam ras, as mango milkshake, as mango burfi,…sigh! the very thought makes my mouth water..

in June, it was waiting for the first rains…I remember a friend of mine asking me, what my favorite smell was, not related to food. I think, it would be the smell of the mud after the first rains…There is a kind of spiritual feeling associated with it..(the second one is that of petrol..I think its a great smell!)

…in July, it was the smell of hot tea and yummy bhajiyas which Amma would make in the evenings, when I returned from dance class, dog tired and super hungry..the sabudana vadas and sometimes the sunday morning maggi treat which bro and I got…that smell of the maggi masala…wow! August, it was the smell of the fresh white butter Amma would take out for Janmasthami savories preparations. Bro and I would plead her for just a bit more…and then the smell of the deep fried murukkus and the cheedais..and the corn which Appa would roast on the gas stove. He would add a bit of ghee, and then slice of lime with salt and chilly powder rubbed on it..and wow! that smell was mouth watering…

…in September, the spring season started, but most of all, I remember the smell of cake which Amma had baked for me just once after borrowing an OTG from Maya aunty..oh God!…that smell still lingers in my conscience somewhere…and then the smell of the flowers in the garden, champa, parijat, jasmine, mogra, jui, and the fresh pudina Amma would harvest once in a while πŸ™‚

….in October, I remember the smell of the yummy spicy, coconut strewn sundals Amma would make for Navratri. I remember Appa once, taking us to the Refinery Township to show us the Ravan Dahan. I got super scared to see the giant Ravan with his 10 faces and scary mustache, and yet the smell of the firecrackers when he was burnt, brings back memories of tightly holding bro’s hand and pretending I was brave!

…in November, I remember the laddoos which Amma and Appa would make for Diwali. Amma making the sugar syrup and Appa frying the boondis…homemade ladoos have a unique smell, and to discover a hidden kaju fried in ghee between the ladoos..sheer bliss!…and then the smell of the til oil, Amma used for lighting the mud diyas, both for Diwali and Karthikgai..I love that smell…

and in was about smelling that wonderful plum cake which Amma’s Christian friend would send..and the smell of petrol which would come out after bro had kicked the Luna a million times which would refuse to start because of the cold…and that filter coffee Amma would make to wake me up from deep slumber!

and then, I realised my time was up and I had to get back to the daily grind of Bombay routine…

Does anyone else have such olfactory nostalgia?

Written for IndibloggerΒ , AmbiPurΒ  Smelly to Smiley Contest


About R's Mom

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33 Responses to My Olfactory Nostalgia

  1. summerscript says:

    What a beautiful post RM!
    Ditto on many many beautiful smell you have mentioned! Ahhhhaaa!
    Tasting Salt- it is the same story here! I can never judge.

  2. Undhiyuu.. Chhundo.. Ponk that too with colourful sev – yellow, red & green too..ahha hhaa..
    kya kya yaad dila diya RM!!!

  3. chaitali says:

    I enjoyed the smell of your post!!

  4. You brought back such fond memories of Ahmedabad for me with this post, RM. Totally loved this post! πŸ™‚

    I had something very similar in mind for the contest. You beat me to it. πŸ™‚

    Good luck!

  5. Aditya says:

    Waah you took me back to Baroda! I am one of those people with an extremely sensitive nose. Which means, though it helps me hook on to awesome smells and follow pretty females with nice perfumes easily (:P) it also makes my life hell because even the slightest of odour can make me puke.

    I can also tell how food will taste based on how it smells. I mean humans should be able to do it in general since our sense of smell and taste are related to each other.

    I also have a very strong memory of smells. Which means, I still remember how those lovely mogra flowers used to smell in our backyard in Baroda, or, how the hospital toilet smelled when I was admitted there for 1 whole month 20 years ago, also in Baroda! I also remember the smell which made me puke when I was in KG – I, and my classmate had brought a terrible breakfast!

    So it is really a blessing in disguise if you do not have such a strong sense of smell! Trust me. πŸ™‚

  6. Pepper says:

    *LOVED* this post RM. Thank you for writing it πŸ™‚

  7. Arch says:

    Wow! What a lovely post! πŸ™‚
    It also reflects how our mom’s used to prepare every item according to the season, while now people just go outside and buy stuff. The personal touch is lost!

  8. Santulan says:

    I make chiki and laddoos with mom as part of diwali traditions.. πŸ˜€
    Some of my favorite smells are:

    Boiling the milk and adding sabudana and kesar to make kheer

    the smell of gulkand after you open the container which was kept to set.

    The aroma of cake after it starts to rise

  9. Smita says:

    This is one beautiful post!!! U know something similar has been going on in my mind…smell and how we relate it to different things or memories?? I will write a post on it.

    Lovely nostalgic post this is!

  10. Ashwathy says:

    My goodness!! Where do you come up with such brilliant ideas??? And you say you aren’t bright enough….phooey! 😑
    This is aweomse!! Loved it! *takes a deep breath and grins* πŸ˜€
    Like you, I love the smell of mud in the rains (the first rain). And of course smell of petrol is an all-time favourite! Also the smell of paint. Even a new notebook. Turn the pages and smell. Aaaah! πŸ™‚

  11. Amit says:

    This was a brilliant post. Loved reading it. I had a smile on my face.

  12. momofrs says:

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times…RM, you write so beautifully.
    LOVED this post…brought back some awesome memories.
    Thanks πŸ™‚

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