A Whiff Of Memories

A whiff of memories - Life with my little star

Hey hey! How are you? It’s been a while since I posted here. But, I have been around reading all your posts. So, I cannot say that I missed WP. However, it sure feels great to get back with writing.

Yesterday a post on Instagram caught my eye.

If you remember a scent, you forget nothing.’

The post by Freddy Birdy comprised some of the warmest short stories I have read recently. When I shared it there, a dear friend responded, and we ended up sharing a bunch of nostalgic stories on how we relate various scents to memories of people and places we love. The conversation brought back a lot of beautiful moments and memories, and I thought, why not write a post about them. 

And, here it goes ๐Ÿ™‚

The Dubai Smell

My Achan(Dad) was an ex-pat in Dubai, and he visited us every year during holidays with a suitcase full of gifts. The moment Achan entered our home, there was this peculiar yet delightful scent all over the place. We called it ‘the Dubai smell’.

Opening the suitcase and fighting over who got what in itself was an extravaganza for us kids, and each and everything in that suitcase had that smell. Amma(mom) used to keep some of the stuff away safely for future use, and whenever she took them out later, we sniffed it and said, ‘Mmmmm, Dubai scent! Smells like Achan!’. It’s weird how I can remember that smell right now as I write this; the smell of Achan and his suitcase full of love.

Kerosene Lamps, and Arabian Jasmine

Call me crazy, but I am a sucker for the smell of kerosene. In fact, I even drank kerosene once when I was a kid. My brothers had mixed oil with kerosene to clean their bicycle’s chain, and I drank it like a yum-yum Pepsi-cola. I was just a baby then, and I am sure I was just mesmerized by the color and not the smell. 

The smell of kerosene reminds me of grandma’s stories. Remember the old power cut days? When the power’s gone, grandma came out with a kerosene lamp and sat on a chair next to the stairs outside our home. And we all found a place next to her, or on the stairs. Then she told us stories; real stories about grandpa, her childhood, her kids’ childhood, and a lot more. And while we sat there, we could smell the scent of Arabian jasmine flowers planted next to the stairs slowly blooming at night, as if they were also keen to hear her stories.

Bru, or Nescafe?

I love coffee so much that even the aroma of it can perk me up in the morning. According to science, the reason is that coffee contains molecules for almost every attractive scent. But for me, coffee smells like love.

My Amma also loves coffee. She prepares it with full-fat milk using the ‘Bru’ coffee powder, and with the perfect measure of sugar. But, she never makes it for her alone. As all others in the house are tea lovers, when she wants one, she checks with me. And I tell her, “I will have one if you are planning to make it for you.”. She would reply, “I will make it only if you want one.”. And we would both be drinking a cup soon after.

When Achan came home with his suitcase, there was always a fancy glass jar of Nescafe in there for Amma. And, for these reasons, A sip of Bru reminds me of Amma’s coffee, and Nescafe about Achan.

Petrichor, Pakodas, and Coffee

I have traveled across countries and continents in the past few years. But, the way it rains anywhere else has never seemed as beautiful as I watch it from the verandah of my home. It may be because the petrichor smells like home, or perhaps it’s amma’s plants and bougainvilleas that make the view more beautiful, or maybe it’s the hot cup of coffee and pakodas that amma prepares that makes it worth the watch. Wherever I am, if it rains, I miss home and make me want to sit there in the verandah and scream, “Ammmmaaa, Coffee.”.

Overused Phenol, and Death

Not all smells bring back good memories. Some make me feel miserable and anxious. The smell of hospitals does that to me. It scares me; the sickening scent of patients, the strong smell of medicines, and the stench of overused phenol. It smells like death to me; reminds me of the lasts days of Achan in the hospital. 

Vada Pav, and Agarbhathis

I disliked Bombay the first time I visited there with Scorpy. Don’t take me wrong. I feel the same with every crowded and so-called happening city, including Kochi. When Scorpy asked me the first day about how I liked Bombay, all I said was “You have pigeons for crows here.”.

But when the sun was about to set, things started to look a bit better. Crimson sky! Pigeons perching and pecking each other on the balcony rails! And there was this divine aroma lingering in the air; the scent of agarbhathis(scented diffusers) and delicious street food. I immediately asked Scorpy to take me out to have street food. We found a shop right next to the building and had vada pav and pani puri. And It felt like I won a lottery when the chaatwala gave me those two extra and free sev puris. Bombay instantly became a lot better for me at that moment.

Puppies and Babies

I am sure some of you are wondering why have I written puppies and babies together. It is because in our home they both smell the same; like milk and baby food.

Achan adored dogs, and we always had at least one at home. Whenever he brought a new pup home, he bought a can of baby food and a feeding bottle too. I was given the duty of feeding the pup because he always said I know how to handle them better than my brothers (secretly feeling remarkably proud here). I still remember this one pup named Mickey who was one hell of a foodie and wouldn’t stop sucking the bottle till the very last drop in there. His tummy would grow so big that he could not stand on his four legs. He would then immediately sleep lying on his back and snoring, showing off his full-blown tummy. 

Cut to 2016. As a newborn, my son initially had some trouble with feeding. To compensate for that, the doctor suggested a formula for him. The first time I gave him that, he drank it all up on a whim and slid into a deep sleep. He looked so adorable! I hugged him tight and gave a peck on his cheek. And guess what, he smelled like Mickey.

Maybe I should just get a puppy instead of planning for another baby. That way, I don’t have to sniff any more poopy diapers, and also won’t have to deal with an additional demanding kid in the future, screaming for pakodas when it rains.

These are just a few of my favorites from an extremely long list which includes everything from the smell of new books to an aromatic biryani. I can go on and on. But, I will leave it to you now, to share some of your favorite scents and the memories associated with it; be it the smell of something that takes you right back to your childhood, a place, or that one person you’ll never forget ๐Ÿ™‚

52 thoughts on “A Whiff Of Memories

    1. same pinch here!!!!๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿคฉ but my mom absolutely loathed it. i used to put my whole face out when i am in a petrol pump.. and inhale sooooooo much! i still remember the faces of the staff who thought i was absolutely crazy!!

  1. okay… i have tons to say sis!!!!
    the butter cookies that my father bought from kuwait, the scent of petrol, coffee is the love of my life!, …
    the kerosene lamp did brought back many memories.. even my ammumma used to tell us stories(mostly epic stories.. and i absolutely love it.), we had kudamulla in our lawn and its fragrance during the night resisted us from going to our rooms to sleep.
    and my zoe and figo smell like chocolates chechi! and i love sniffing them!๐Ÿ˜
    i am an expert in figuring out things by their scent! especially when my amma makes payasam secretly..(i used to spoil all her surprises๐Ÿ˜‚.)
    the main reason why no one can buy me out from a library is because i can never pull my nose out from those old books.. oohhhh i love ’em.. i miss them too.
    the one scent that brings tears to my eyes, is the scent of the perfume that my sis wears.. (yknow why)… even now, writing this, i get that fragrance from somewhere.. i wish it was from her!
    sorry to type this lengthy comment. pardon me. but i couldn’t resist myself from sharing these with you. ๐Ÿ˜

    1. I knew you would have tons to say ๐Ÿ˜„ Ohh the butter cookies. I know them. The melt in mouth ones. Kudamulla, ath thanne ๐Ÿ˜„ Jasmines that looks like roses. I loathe the smell of normal jasmine. This one is distinct. Right?
      Aww! I wish I could meet your zoe and figo Ammuuu. I miss hugging a pup.
      I know why ๐Ÿ™ƒ But things are better now๐Ÿ™‚ so yayy. You will definitely meet her someday soon ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜˜
      Donโ€™t be! I am all ears when it comes to your stories. They are always the best. Thanks for your time Ammu ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ˜˜

      1. your replies are full of emojis and love!!
        i used to turn into a monster when someone tried to snatch the chocolates or cookies from me…
        yeah.. kudamulla is different. i have a friend who is allergic to kudamulla, and the day she visited my home and stayed for the night, listening to stories… the fragrance nearly made her vomit, which was utterly shocking for me
        zoe and figo are my cutis.. i have spoken to them about you.. and theyre so eager to meet you too.
        things aren’t that better.. still working.
        but i have you. and your emojis.. and yeah.. the cutie!!

          1. ohh boy! i am a talkative person… and writing essays, telling stories are my main things.๐Ÿ˜‚.if i start talking then you would have to beg to make me stop. i love telling stories.. and your post made me write them all down. i have extras!!
            i know.. if emojis weren’t there, then i have no idea how my life would have been. so we are truly emoji lovers!
            (right now i am using a laptop, so i cant use them frequently.) ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿฅฐ

              1. the jergens that my aunt got from kuwait.. i loved its smell.. and instead of putting it on my skin, i used to eat it! till i was hospitalised.๐Ÿ˜ซ
                2.do you know the white milk like prasadam we got from the temples.? it had a good scent right? but the pujari didnt give me more than once.
                keralathile mazhakku vere oru manam aanu.. alle? you would know it better! especially the rain right after the summers..
                my parents used to buy new books for my new academic year in school early.. and they thought that i am so interested in studying them even before the school reopens, but the main reason was that i loved the smell of my new books!๐Ÿ˜‚
                i once experienced the horrible “diaper changing event”.. and yknw the reason why i included this as the last point.. so that not to spoil the others๐Ÿ˜…

                yayy!! 5 points for gryffindor!๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿ˜‚

                1. Oh yes! My brother is the one who loves Jergens. He still asks for a bottle when we visit kerala. Hospitalized!? ayyo ammu ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ˜„
                  Paal payasam. Yeah it smells divine; like the chethi poo and kalkandam. I love it.
                  Keralathile mazhayanu mazha. Shoo bhayangara missing aanu ammuse.
                  We used to get the textbooks for the next class by may first week. I used to sneak in every once in a while to open and smell them. Amma used to say, โ€˜ school thurakumbozhum e unmeshamokke kannanam ttoโ€™ ๐Ÿ˜…
                  Huh! No worries. I just cleaned one. Ithalla ithinappuram chaadi kadannavan aanu ee…. ๐Ÿ˜„
                  I had a good laugh reading all that Ammu ๐Ÿ˜„

                  1. paal payasam.. ambalappuzha!! yum yum!
                    oh godd!!! kalkandam. i myself have no idea about the no of times i have cheated god during pujas!! i used to steal kalkandam..(not just that of course!!) then amma said a horrible story about how gods punish us.. from then on..
                    nosti adicho? kerala rain!
                    i loved your mom’s dialogue…
                    yknow i used to be 100 percent prepared in class on the reopening days… i would’ve completed reading all the txtboks. but then as i grew up, i understood why i need teachers.. trignometry and stuff.. ugh

                    1. Yeah yeah!
                      I am trying to figure out the faces of the non malayalis reading this!๐Ÿ˜… Mooku kondu ksha, nja, rha varakkum!๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜‚

  2. Such a heartfelt post, my dear. I love the way you wrote it. Can you share the link to that post? It sounds great. I’m glad that it inspired you to write this post. It feels so great to hear from you after a long while, Achu chechi. I love the parallels you drew between babies and puppies. Somehow I’m scared of the first but not at all of the second. You drank kerosene?! ๐Ÿ˜‚ I love the smell of petrol but I haven’t got a chance to taste it. But I’m not that fond of kerosene though. I love the way you described it ๐Ÿ˜‚ just like sipping a coke!

    1. Oh yeah. I will share it dear. I should have included it here too.
      ๐Ÿ˜„ I am still scared of the first though I have one ๐Ÿ˜…
      Yep ๐Ÿ˜„ I was immediately taken to hospital to clear things up. Good that they mixed it up oil. Hey! hi! I am still alive๐Ÿ’๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

      And again! It feels good to see your name in the notification dear ๐Ÿ˜Š

  3. ๐Ÿ”นHappy to have you back. We missed you. โค๏ธ
    ๐Ÿ”นBeing A True Nescafe lover, I will take side of “Achan” today.
    ๐Ÿ”นMickey is always an emotion as it was the name of my pet dog too… ๐Ÿถ

    1. Jeremy! ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿค—
      ๐Ÿ”นI was telling that it feels like the days we started. So good to see you all here ๐Ÿ™‚
      ๐Ÿ”นI canโ€™t really choose between them ๐Ÿ˜…
      ๐Ÿ”นOh I know Mickey. Mickey is the reason why we connected here. Remember? Definitely an emotion ๐Ÿถโค๏ธ

  4. Yayyyyy!! A post from you after so long and you donโ€™t know how much I loved reading this. Would love to read more and more of them.

    You drank kerosene!!!!!๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ณI relate to the Dubai smell. My dad was in the village when we were in blore and when he visited every fortnight his bag had the smell of our village ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Grandma stories was so nostalgic. I just could easily go back to those memories. And โ€œIโ€™ll make coffee only if you wantโ€ this happens to date with my Amma! โ˜บ๏ธ
    Sukha puri for free ๐Ÿ˜‚! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ™Œ Bombay Vada Pavs are awesome. Have visited once, but I remember that taste so well

    Get a pup and go for a second baby too. That will be an awesome team ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Ouch! The smell of death bit broke my heart. ๐Ÿ˜

    I love the smell of babies โ˜บ๏ธactually I have a very sharp sense of smell. If my dad ate chats on the way home from work, I would know! I would ask him to take me out for a treat โ˜บ๏ธ
    I love the smell of kerosene .. reminds me of the stove in our house. I am a vegetarian but stayed in a complex which had all non veggies. I loved the smell of chicken ๐Ÿ˜‚. The sauted garlic, the masala ๐Ÿ˜€ my mom would find it weird. I never ate then but I love the smell โ˜บ๏ธthis smell even today reminds me of my childhood

    1. I am all smiles here, HS. So happy that you liked it. I knew you would have a lot of similar stories to share and was waiting to hear them ๐Ÿ˜„ I wasnโ€™t wrong ๐Ÿ˜Š

      ๐Ÿ˜„ That would definitely be an awesome team. I do want Dhruv to have a pup.

      The chaat smell ๐Ÿ˜„ I do that with Biryani. If someone close eats biryani without me. I would smell their hands and complains again and again that they ate biryani without me ๐Ÿ˜…
      Oh I love the smell of sautรฉed garlic and ginger. Its my favourite! My mother makes this faux chicken curry ๐Ÿ˜‚ using soya chunks. It smells and tastes just like that, but totally vegetarian. You should try that HS ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. seeeee you know me so well now ๐Ÿ˜›๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ˜Š

        Yaa Biryani too, the smell is so strong we can easily make out if one had it for lunch ๐Ÿ˜‚

        I have soyachunks at home. Thinking of ways to make kids eat it. Should try this way out! Thanks for that tip โ˜บ๏ธ

  5. Welcome back dear.. wishes to you!!!
    I too love kerosene smell, a strong filter coffee smell but never tasted both. Thank God !!! There wasnโ€™t anything serious, otherwise I would have missed a good friend like you๐Ÿคช๐Ÿ˜(I know itโ€™s a little too much here).
    I enjoy the smell of flowers especially jasmine that blooms like a rose and mulla poo smells from my bedroomโ€™s window on the early mornings,they are my wake up smells… I missed them a lot while I was in US.I can very well relate to your mickey๐Ÿถ I am a cat person and it reminds me of my cat ๐Ÿฑ name soan papdi (it was creamy white) in Kerala.. I can sense her smell while reading your article. Well written!! Thanks to bringing back those memories..

    1. Thanks Ramya! A little too much. But it feels good to hear it though ๐Ÿ˜…
      You havenโ€™t tasted coffee?! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
      Awww! Soan papdi is the nicest name I have ever heard for a cat ๐Ÿฑ
      Glad I could bring back those memories to you dear. And thanks for always being there to support me. You know I mean it ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I am actually an odd one when it comes to smell..have a weak sense of smell. But my hubby always tells a story that he attaches with smells..he was just saying the other day how Vickโ€™s smell reminds him of his grandma

  7. I totally enjoyed this post. I have a craze for smells too. So crazy that I’m looking for a smell I experienced in my childhood! ๐Ÿ˜… I still believe that it’s etched in the back of my memory and I haven’t come across it for a long time.

  8. Mickey brings back memories of Lulu, my pet chicken. I don’t know if people pet chicken, but I used to, and Lulu was my favourite. She smelled of.. well, the way they always smell, of fluffy feathers and dirt. My arch enemy ‘chicku’ too smelled of dirt, I call her my arch enemy for a reason, for she destroyed my video games mercilessly. Yeah, that cat was so evil.
    I love reading your memoirs, they are so awesome!

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