Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Everyday experience of smells and capitalisms.

When smell gives you an idea of the space that surrounds you, its cultural perception. Kaleidoscope on his way to the built in city usually experiences  a transition from his peri-urban neighbourhood through part of the old city ultimately to the late capital built in city. He travels along with people from the hinterland. People who work as construction labours or as informal economy entrepreneurs. Kaleidoscope smells the unadulterated human bodies - straight and unfiltered.

However, as he gets down to board the AC volvo bus the crowd disappears. He leaves his  human 'smelly' world of the masses and enters into the builtin airconditioned bus often carrying the smell of a 'refreshing' roomfreshner. Then comes a series of people wearing different 'sexy' smells. Kaleidoscope's cultured nose can now differentiate between the a feminine and masculine smells. The smell instigates grains of charms! Kaleidoscope unknowingly recognises the urban elite smell which occupies the less crowded bus destined to the information technology hub. He readily forgets the human 'smelly' overcrowded buses which often overtakes his bus and vice-versa. Suddenly the world becomes contained with a feeling of cool breeze containing built in and constructed smell of success!

Kaleidoscope knows smell changes and he is taught that it changes for 'better' - no need to have communism in so far as you can avail the 'charming' smells surrounding you! If you disagree ask kaleidoscope, how happy he becomes when he rides the volvo leaving the overcrowded buses coming from hinterland!
A still from the movie "Perfume"


  1. It shows that you are quite aware about your olfactory sense....your piece reminded me of certain 'new' smells I had come across while travelling in Leh...something I had never smelled in the urban setting I was coming from: the strong smell of the dry toilets, the over-crowded mini buses wherein you can smell the robes of local people and each has a different smell....the smell of the cold desert...and so on...For ethnographic work, I always tell my students that smells play a great role. While travelling in villages in AP, I recall the whiff of jaggery making across the fields, in UP, the mint oil flavor just refreshes the air in the villages, and certain smells just bring back memories.

    1. Wonderfully articulated sonal. True, i was wondering what makes ethnographers not giving much emphasis on smell. Smell says a lot. I also attempt to use sense of smell during ethnography. Smell also gives a sense of security and alert sometimes!