Friday, August 9, 2013

Smells like Home

This must have happened to you. A significant smell that you come across reminds you of a memory from the past. A smell that triggers emotions, feelings of joy, love, hate, anger, all comes bubbling up in you. Those childhood memories that you forgot come right back and transport you to that time and space as if you were floating.

Our brain is an amazing thing. It analyzes everything in the form of electrical signals and forms memories. So when we see an object, our retinal nerves send a signal to our brain which it then interprets and we understand what we are seeing. Our nose follows the same mechanism. The olfactory sensors in our nose when stimulated by the molecules in the air send electrical signals to our brain and our brain then interprets these signals for us. In a similar fashion, olfactory memories are also formed which get triggered when we smell something familiar. This is also termed as "olfactory evoked recall".

As Indians our lives are filled with the spectrum of aromas, from the naughty dried red chili to the soft cardamom, the mouth-watering fragrance of mangoes to the tangy scent of pickles. Every season brings its own unique set of aromas. Winters and the ginger teas, summer and the mangoes, Monsoon and the saundhi khusbu of the first rain, all have their specific and special fragrances.

Come to think of it, I have so many memories associated with specific smells around the house. The smell of green mangoes reminds me of summers as my mother used to dry them for making pickles. The aroma of hot tea reminds me of my uncle sitting in the balcony reading the morning newspaper. The fragrance of basmati rice takes me back to the time when I used to come back home from school and know from the corner of the street that my mother would have made Rajma and Rice for me just from the smell. Old paper smell reminds me of my grandmother’s books. Diesel's smell reminds me of my dad’s car and the journeys we took together as a family. When I think of my birthdays the only smell that comes to my mind is of chocolate. My family used to get a lot of chocolate for me-Chocolate cake, candies, chocolate dips, lollipops-you name and I had it. In winters, my dad would bring hot Gulab Jamuns for us which smelled like heaven. The aromas of onion and potato pakoras during monsoon still make my mouth water. 

Thus, my mind is filled with such sweet smelling memories which I deeply cherish. And I find it amazing that how are senses have the power to transport us to a different time, if not physically then mentally. So keep smelling and keep making memories.

# This post is an entry for Ambipur's Smelly To Smiley! contest.


  1. Love your smell collections. Most of them are relatable to mine too :)

  2. Really all of food are delicious.