In India, each experience is almost always layered with distinct aromas of all sorts, such that we are conditioned to automatically feel a certain way when exposed to them.
Recall visiting Grandma’s house in the summers? For most it is a time of pampering, relaxation and sheer over indulgence, but also an experience layered with unique, distinctive fragrances.
A typical start of the day includes waking up to the uplifting aromas of Sandalwood, Rose, or Loban, among many others, emitted from grandma’s freshly burnt Incense- the best room freshners. This usually precedes the morning Indian ritual of warm Masala Chai, which fills the air with the invigorating, essence of a Ginger, Cinnamon and Cardamom spice concoction
As the day proceeds, grandma opens up her classic, rustic looking Alamari to find you a perfect gift among her treasured, perennial possessions, when the aroma of antique Silk, Zari and Cotton saris preserved in delicate Mulmul with dry Neem leaves, wafts out. One wonders all that these garments must have endured, after all they’ve been passed down through generations of ancient lineage!
What follows is air filled with the savour of traditional Ghee ka Tadka – an invigorating blend of ground Cumin seeds and dried Coriander powder in clarified butter, which signals grandma’s meal cooked with so much love. This accompanied by the zesty aroma of her spicy, homemade Mango Acchar make way for the perfect summer comfort meal.
Grandma knows the thin line between indulging you and making you lazy, so here’s when she pulls you out of your PJs into her well cultivated garden. While she waters her plants and shares some botany gyaan, you can’t help but inhale the gentle gust of Gilli Mitti, a scent so evocative of the romantic monsoon showers that are to follow.
As you return indoors, a bowl emanating the rich creamy smell of Turmeric and Besan blended in full fat milk - the quintessential recipe on how to remove skin tan, awaits application. While you wait for this homemade remedy to dry, there is a whiff of delicately scented sweet coconut as grandma decides to give a head massage, as only she can, with the best massage oil suited for that healthy summer hair: cold pressed coconut oil.
This day of utmost gratification ends with grandma pulling out a bunch of classics from her vintage trunk, which leaves the air with that old-book smell, and begins her therapeutic art of storytelling that transports you to an other-worldly era.