Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

Tag: SMELL

TO SMELL OR NOT TO SMELL

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Will you guys believe it that I don’t even know which all countries are participating in the football world cup. I cannot know the results next day also as I don’t watch TV news and only read “raddi” news papers. However, I am aware that it is being played in Russia. Where was it held last year, Khuda jane and where will it be played next, ki farq painda hai.  My wife, a news paper & football buff will update me on this.

I subscribe to a news paper but by the time it comes to us it is well soaked and drenched courtesy the monsoons. You can read the last page through the front page. It also comes a day late. That’s the acche din for us. Bijli has reached all the villages, gas has reached all the “fookni” using mothers but the news paper takes its own sweet time. Saturday and Sunday’s paper comes combined on Monday weighing more than a tonne.

The other day as I entered the house during lunch break, a typical smell caught my nose. These days I am very allergic to certain smells. The only smell which can keep me alive is the smell of bar-be-cue. I can follow that zig-zag path of smoke like the “alladin ka jin” has trailing behind him. Well, we tried locating that scent but could not. It was difficult to have lunch as that “chameli ka tel” type typical fragrance used in “haldi-uptan” ceremonies in Indian weddings kept hitting my nostrils and giving me a headache.

After I quit smoking certain smells like heeng (asafoetida), Ghee being made at home, aggarbatti & dhoop of any kind and hawan smoke etc) kills me. Both I and my wife went on a hunting spree but alas we were not able to locate the source. I left the drawing room to avoid getting that nauseated feeling but that trail of stink was even more prominent there.

Somehow I managed to survive that one hour lunch break. As I was leaving, wife picked up the news paper to read. Bang! She said the news paper smells. This much was clear none of our perfumes had leaked nor could have come in contact with this news paper unless the person delivering it would have rubbed or dropped something. As she opened the paper the odour got very strong. Lo and behold it was written on the front page “smell”. I left for the office in a huff.

It turned out to be a new perfume being launched by Park Avenue. I have nothing against the brand and I still have a soft corner for them as they were the first people to bring in a beer shampoo in India I suppose. My inlaws had gifted me on my wedding a toilette set which had a beer shampoo. So to find such an obnoxious (ghatia) kind of “khusboo” did hurt a few feelings.

Be that as it may, my wife knowing me well tore off the first page and burnt it, the smell won’t go, she threw away the whole news paper and ensured that the “kachara gadi” takes it away, still there was no respite. We gave up, even though that lingering stench was giving me a very uncomfortable experience.

Next day, after my tea in the morning I visited my throne. I picked up one news paper lying around for the ceremony. As I settled down for the job this smell became prominent again and I could not abort mission. I realised that this damn news paper was folded in between the smelly one. So a kind of sympathetic transfer of smells had taken place. My irritation kept growing as I just could not throw this paper away in the midst of bombardment. I finished firing and rushed to the main dustbin outdoors and dunked that goddamn news paper into it.

The satisfaction within me was showing as a kind of victory I had achieved. I then went in for brushing my teeth. As I cut the pea sized drop of tooth paste on my brush I smelt the same rat again. I thought I was hallucinating but moment I started brushing and as my hand closed in towards my mouth the smell again became very prominent. The smell had got stuck to my hands while reading the paper.

I quickly did “kulla” and washed my hands with soap many times. Wife kept reminding me that you would be late to reach office, I said to myself to hell with my office. I shall not carry this smell with me at any cost. I can die of any other cause but be declared dead for inhaling gases of the Nazi gas chambers.

I heard the siren of the factory go. Finally, I rubbed a lot of hand sanitizer as I left. Now I was thinking what “bahana” I will tell my boss that why was I late today? Any guesses? Keep wondering!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

DANCING IN THE RAIN

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Petrichor is that earthly smell which emanates when parched earth receives the first drops of rain. I just love “Mitti ki sondhi khushboo”. I remember a grass root called “Khas” which was used in the desert coolers. It used to emit a very unique earthy smell too. I also remember smell of tea in a Kulhar or Sakora at a railway station. The taste of the tea used to be transformed by this small earthen pot.

Rains have brought much relief from the heat and humidity. Here when it rains, it rains like hell. Not like Cats and Dogs but like Elephants and Rhinos. The brown and burnt terrain has suddenly turned lush green. I have yet to see so many shades of green. With the sky overcast, these shades vary & add beauty to the landscape. It is 10 am now and it as dark as 7.30 pm. “Kaali ghata cha gayi hai”.

The chicks of nesting birds have flown. Ponds are overflowing; Ducks and Cormorants are flocking in them. Frogs and toads have gotten busy fluffing their wind bags and croaking sweet melodies. I have yet to see one worth a kiss though. Earthworms have left their holes and are easy pickings for Mynah’s. They devour them like noodles. Ants have now got wings & are flying in swarms. Street lights are clogged and the frogs are having a “barakhana”.

Waterfalls have come alive and are in gusto, sprinkling and spraying water on passersby. All sorts of contraptions besides the conventional umbrella and raincoats are out. White cement bags slit from one side are a common site. Ladies wearing polythene bags instead of shower caps appear funny. Motorcycles with handle covers and seat covers, kids with school bags under wraps are a common scene in this part of the country. A kind of “wetty” feeling is in the air.

You open a packet of namkeen it will go soggy in a minute. The crunchiness just doesn’t stay. Biscuits many drop off from your hand before dipping them in tea, just exaggerating. The only saving grace is the garma garam pakoras which my wife makes for me after office.

The man who cannot just do his job is our poor dhobi. How hard he may try and how hot he may iron the dresses, they are going to stay soggy. The bed feels soggy, the sofa feels soggy & the towel too feels soggy. I just can’t stand that typical stink which creeps in from somewhere in wet towels and baniyans. Clothes now take three to four days to dry. Imagine if you have to wear soggy underwear.

Soon algae will start greening everything. Mushrooms have already started sprouting all over, not the edible ones but the decorative woody kind. Flowers pots are on a musical chairs spree as one has to keep shifting them. In our place plants actually drown. For plant lovers like me, our green house has been converted into a makeshift shelter, with all of them huddled together to face the wrath of rain. Small embankments to divert water, besides water blocks to stop flooding are being made. Digging and freshening of drains is in progress. Tough times I must say.

I somehow love rains. The pitter-patter is such a soothing sound punctuated by the roar of thunder and a crack of lightening. It shakes your soul out in a way. As I drove my bike with my daughter through villages and farms yesterday, it was very soothing to see light green grassy patches. On closer look we found them to be paddy seedlings. Oxen standing in the fields with their ploughs hooked up. They too have their raincoats made out of fertilizer bags. Their horns brightly painted and tinker bells making music as we saw them obediently reacting to every whistle, shoo, shout and sound of the farmer. I wish the farmers luck. May they have a bumper crop and may million hungry mouths be fed.

My only issue is why all this water is flowing down to sea without being harvested. Villagers fight for this precious resource in lean months. People blockade our company gates if water is rationed. Villages which had two hundred people twenty years back now have two thousand. I do not see any government water pipeline or even an effort to mitigate their water woes. Funds come and go down the drain it seems.

Be that as it may. Next three months are going to be wet, wetter and wettest. Getting drenched is a ritual as work will never stop. Schools here do not have a rainy day holiday. I like one thing about the honesty of local people that no one runs away with your umbrella or your slippers.

Rain is a blessing indeed and my garam piyali of chai has arrived. Let me stand in the corridor and appreciate the rhythm of falling rain. Is anyone coming to dance with me? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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