The Scent of India

Posted: October 2nd, 2020

COVID-19 IS MAKING me nostalgic. It’s not possible to travel to India currently, and I would love to be spending some of the monsoon there, preferably in Goa with not much to do. I’m watching films (mostly Bengali, with some Hindi serials and the occasional new film such as Raat Akeli Hai and Gulabo Sitabo, and, of course, Indian Matchmaking and A Suitable Boy) and reading (most notably, The Burning) satisfies the eye and the ear, but the other three jnanendriyas (organs of perception) are missing—the nose, tongue and skin. Film theory has discussed the haptic, or idea of touch, but the nose and the tongue are left aside. While food satisfies the tongue and some of the smell, the other smells of India have to be remembered rather than experienced, even though smell itself is one of the most powerful ways of evoking memories.

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