I have an itchy nose. It itches – frequently and regularly (thank you allergies). It is also a very fastidious one. It is very particular about what it likes and what it does not. Dust – Bring the sneeze on. Garbage – Eww. Pollen – itch right between the nostrils. Smoke – Add watery eyes. And the list goes on.The positive side of all this is I am very sensitive to smells. It makes me more aware of my surroundings. I can smell an unclean urinal from across the road and can smell my way to the whole-in-the-wall shop frying amazing vadais. I relate to smells and associate places and subsequently memories with them.
There is a distinctive smell I love. It is almost homecoming. It is a travel experience. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is beauty. It is amazement. It is life forward and I could keep adding words to it. It is the “Great Indian Wedding”. It is an experience like no other. It is filled with colour, bling, sound, food, happiness and dreams. But the one thing that stays with me long after a wedding (and no I am not talking about the weight I gain) is the scents of an Indian wedding. Unlike many other travel experiences, one cannot isolate the scents that waft and tease your nostrils at a wedding. It clings to the air, coyly toys with your senses and fills you with a sense of happiness.
The freshly plucked flowers used as decorations and garlands, tucked inside braids and hair buns, on the buttonhole and bunched together as gifts. The petals thrown as blessings. Some bruised and trampled release a scent as unique as the couple. Jasmines and roses, orchids and tuberose. Join together in an unlikely heady combination. Add in the fresh rose water sprinkled to welcome the guests who air kiss and dole out gossips. You get a scent that is so wonderfully different. The warm and smooth sandalwood undertones combined with the cocktail of perfumes and deodorants. – everything from N5 to the locally made musk ones. The ghee laden, milk thickened cooking aromas floating around reminding the guests of fresh fruit being cut and spices ground fine to tantalize your taste buds add a distinctive punch to the air.
In theory none of these scents are supposed to mix. They are distinct and poles apart. They don’t belong to each other. But at that one moment when a couple begin their journey together, they mingle. They interweave into a wonderful experience. Long after the wedding, after I get back to routine I dip into this scent. I pull out strands of memories tucked away – strands smelling of the Indian wedding.