Sunday, June 07, 2015

My Olfactory Know-It-All...

The world is a bouquet of scents.
Some pleasant, some not-so-pleasant.
Some linger on, some are momentary.

The world is a collection of aromas.
People, places, experiences, associated.
Memories recalled, reminisced through.

One of our five senses - the sense of smell. Accompanying that sense of smell is a sense of association. Very often, we find ourselves, particularly, our brain establishing a connect between various smells and people, places or experiences.

How often is it that if you are made to recall a particular fragrance (or even a particular unpleasant smell at times), a person's face or a scenic backdrop or a sequence of incidences flashes at the back of your mind?

Well, it does, very often, for me. And, I have a similar flashback to share too. At the recall of  somebody's 'body odour'.

Back off, sensitive nostrils. There is a lot of #SniffSniff involved in here.

This incident dates back to the time when I'd applied for my first job, in my early twenties.

The designation of my liking, the company of my choice, the office situated at a likeable place for daily commute, and, of course, the salary suiting my monthly expenditure.

What more could I have asked for? It was a dream come true.

The only loophole? The location of the company's head office.

Jaipur, which mattered as the interview was to be conducted there! I couldn't have let gone of this opportunity and thus did not think twice while booking the bus tickets, to arrive a good two days in advance, in the Pink City.

It is said that the journey matters more than the destination. Fairly so, this scenario. I took the bus to Jaipur from where the Central Secretariat Metro Station is situated today.

Little did I know that the six-hour-long journey would be a highly awkward one. Since the bus started from the Secretariat, I was among the first people to occupy a seat. Gradually, as we halted in between to pick other passengers, the space started becoming stuffy.

I don't remember exactly when, but a middle-aged woman stepped up in front of our seats, mine and another man's who was sitting beside me. Seeing her struggle with the luggage and with the stuffiness of the crowd and out of courtesy, I volunteered to vacate my seat, but my co-passenger objected and vacated his seat instead, saying that he had to get down at the next stop.

That lady exchanged a thankful smile with that passenger. All was well, I thought, and that was my folly. All hell broke loose for the remaining three hours of the journey.

Had I realized that I was to be put through a torturous ordeal filled with the disgusting smell of sweat and hideous body odour, I would have bolted out, straight out of the bus, to wait for the next one plying on the same route. But that wouldn't have been feasible as I had already handed over my ticket to the bus conductor.

I was destined to suffer, bearing all that came my way, sitting next to that lady. Not that she was imposing herself and her odour on her co-passengers intentionally, but still.

So, as soon as she took her seat, she opened her purse and took out her डब्बा to eat her lunch as it was around 12 noon. At the back of my mind, I was applauding her decision and her courage to attempt to have her food in a means of public transport, stuffed with people, so much so that there was negligible space to even stand (on one's own feet, without stepping on anybody else's).

There it was, a डब्बा filled with vegetables 'drowned' in gravy and spilling oil, all over the container and her purse too. I felt thankful to God, that my interview wasn't scheduled for that day itself, upon arrival. Imagine yourself in my position, dodging the splatter of patchy oil stains on your formal attire, and you would know of my despair.

The bad was here. The worse was coming. I know I should not comment, but at that time, I was not as healthy as I am now, rather I was slim. But that lady was obese. And, all of us know, that if you're obese, you sweat a lot. So there came the #SniffSniff attack of body odour and suffocating sweat, each time she would raise an elbow to tear a piece of bread to have along with those veggies.

Lunch did not last long as I could see that she was very hungry. She burped her way to a full stomach and I heaved a sigh of relief.

With the worse already there, I could have requested for the worst not to come. All in vain.
That sigh was short-lived though. At the last stop, she welcomed her companion for the remainder of the journey, her friend's daughter, maybe.
How I wished for that little girl to be an adult at that time so that I vacate my seat for her and free myself from the oppressive situation. But, since she was a toddler, she sat on her lap instead.

But, she was a cranky kid and kept irritating the lady for various things from her luggage. Each time she would bend over, I would cringe at my nose. How I would wish for anaesthesia to be administered to my nose like they did at the Dentist's so that I was ignorant of her hideous body odour. But in vain.

How I tried to disguise my handkerchief as a means to cover my nostrils, on the pretext of wiping my forehead. I even practised meditating to rid myself of the uneasiness of being stuffed like clothes in a packed suitcase. These subtle hints were NOT enough for her.

Moreover, I even tried to hold my breath to the verge of unconsciousness. At last, I had to open my luggage and resort to using my deodorant. That sure did provide relief for the last leg of the journey.

I vowed never to take a bus for a long journey, ever again, once I reached my destination. Never have I bumped into that lady again. I hope that it never happens too.

And, the mention of 'body odour' always reminds me of this weird, awkward and embarrassing experience. As for the interview, I was rewarded with a job that stayed with me for fifteen years.

All's well that ends well! :)

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I am sharing my odour story for the ‘My Nose Knows’ contest as a part of the #SniffSniff activity at BlogAdda
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