Saturday, November 25, 2006
My Aunt Lisa asked, “What does India smell like?” This is an interesting question. When you get off the plane it overwhelms you. At first you can’t put your finger on what exactly your olfactory bulbs are picking up. I remember saying to Mike in the cab to Mysore, “what is that smell?” He replied, “India.” Now being here one month I can pick out the distinctive smells, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Mike and I made a list this morning. The shanty town just off the road where we lives smells every morning like a wood burning stove. After practice, it always smells like those early summer mornings on the east coast. I swear, the Devaraja market smells exactly like the Italian market. The temples smell of incense and jasmine, the people smell of curry, and sandalwood. Then there is the rickshaw exhaust, burning trash, and of course cow dung. The sweet stalls have smells of fried sweetness that will stop you midstep. Mike has said it is just like in the Tom and Jerry cartoons, you can see the sweetness wafting through the air. The shala smells most days like sweat, but Guruji up close smells really sweet. Is that what India smells like? Aunt Lisa, you’ll have to come and smell it for yourself.