Waking up this lazy morning with the earthy scent of everything cleansed by the fresh rains is a perfect start to a laid back Sunday. The anticipation of the aroma of a freshly made cup of coffee is already making me smile. This makes me think that if I do keep my eyes closed and just smell everything around for those few minutes, how many can I relate to?
What would obviously top my list would me my flatmates passion of cooking everything in coconut oil, every Sunday morning! Now that is a hard one to miss!
Any given instance, one's sense's are armed for action to see which one will be given preference. The obvious one is sight of course, but the other senses of smell, taste, touch and hearing are more often that not given a back seat, but are more sensitive and acute and need to be tuned to appreciate the finer things in life. A wine tasting is never ideally about the colour, Its about the taste and the aroma. The sound of a powerful opera conjures up far greater images in mind than that which can ever be conveyed on stage.
When we close our eyes, I do believe we 'see' the world around us in a far more beautiful and gorgeous light.
In continuation of the last blog about music and association, the association of events with scent is not merely a happy coincidence but something we are biologically programmed to experience.
A woman's head always rest for support on a mans shoulder for a sense of feeling and comfort. The evolutionary fact of hunter and gatherer aside, the pheromones released from a woman's hair appeals to a mans brain, not only for sexual reasons but as an evolving ape, he associates that smell to someone who is his responsibility to protect and care for. Likewise, Androstenone emanating from a mans shoulder curve triggers a woman's sense of belonging and associates it as someone of her own, lulling her into a sense of comfort and protection. An infant does not up to 8 months recognise any faces, not because it cannot see, but because its senses have not been developed yet. What does take preference in that period, is its sense of smell, most importantly its mothers, which is the most overpowering and associative scent it will retain for the rest of its life.
From all the aromas in the world , I will never forget what my mother's scent or what my grandmother ( may Allah rest her soul) scent was like that sunny afternoon in my childhood when she was cooking for me. My nephew being all of 4 years told me the other day that he was smelling my photograph. As amusing as that may be, its understandable that as I am physically hardly ever in front of him and also that he is in his growing years processing many images daily, the best way for him to retain mine, is my scent, which he will associate not only as his relative but also to all those times I punished and told him off for being naughty. I do hope that is not all he remembers as he grows up!
How do people without sight manage? Understandable that they have the disability, coupled with an acceptance of the unknown, but if we were to do it for a while, I do not think it would really be successful. We have our comfort zone of people who can cushion the first non visual experience, but it would be rather frightening after a while because of all the unknown scent of strange things. A rather interesting experiment to be conducted..hmm
Few scents encountered over time make me feel all gooey and happy any time I think of them, which I will always remember and preserve. In no special order, they are:
- The waft of freshly baked ginormous cookies at Bens Cookies, Covent Garden, London.
- How the fresh virgin school book pages smell.
- Davidoff Cool Blue perfume, because its one of my mums favourite fragrance.
- Johnson & Johnson baby products. Smell of perpetual innocence.
- My favourite store is the whole wide world, Lush in Covent Garden, London. They make handmade body care products, and it is a olfactory mind explosion down there!
- Smell of petrol.
- Manly musk , very Alpha Male.
- Freshly mown grass on a warm English summer day. Ooooooh the possibilities.
- The way strong, black, freshly ground coffee smelled in that small Italian town. The way coffee is supposed to be.
- Love the smell of Henna. So feminine, festive and pretty.
And last but not the least I will never, ever, ever forget the smell of fried fish and cooking oil on some people's clothing ( cannot name the sect for fear of being politically incorrect) , boarding the No.25 bus in East London.The desire to walk all the way to Oxford Circus in order to avoid that smell is to say the least!