Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Winter peek-a-boo: what is that smell?!

It's not raat ki raani, that heavy thing in the air you smelt in an auto on your way home.

It's from the trees with a 'high ground clearance', (Ashoka when it flowers?) more along on straight roads in colonies than on roundabouts of Akbar Road. Lodhi, Jangpura, GK, Connaught Place, Saket, Gurgaon; I've smelt it outside the railway station even. It's in the air in Vasant Vihar. When I walk to my boyfriend's house, it's there. I wish I knew a botanist. Now I'll have to google Trees of Delhi since I can't just call the author, Arundhati Roy's (ex?) husband, Pradip Krishen and have him educate me.

I thought of Nicholas Cage, from City of Angels -- I find I do this often enough for it to no longer be novel -- think of Nicholas Cage in the context of sense. Maybe I should watch that movie again, to know if it was crap and I'm getting carried away by an adolescent memory. Be that as it may, what if he couldn't register this sickening ripeness and needed me to describe this this smell I go on about?

I wouldn't call it putrefied roses, or florists tears or mud and honey. I'd have problems visualising 'with my nose', such concocted irregularities. It's just there.

But I wouldn't want the good actor of puppy dog eyes to be confused about the description of an October whiff I couldn't put across, forget sexify. I'd have to be honest then. Nic, I'm sorry I can't describe to you a smell I haven't made up my mind about.

Maybe the smell is my capsicum, I'd say -- my green bell pepper. Only because about both, I don't know. I can't tell. I haven't decided. But this smell, this it's just there, green, all over the place, racy thing, it's distracting. Capsicum isn't. So much for that.

I roll my window down on certain stretches while driving because I want to breathe it and puke. That's when it'll hit me. That's when Mr Cage might throw me a not bad.

In the real world though, my boyfriend seems impatient, or at least not at all curious. Maybe that's unfair. He's just, simply. not intrigued. Do what you want. Maybe it's how he felt on Sunday about my reaction when he took me to meet 'Sir', his guru, his piano teacher, the person he respects most in the world.

Don't talk like that.

Like what?

Like in the world; it's redundant, and annoying.



We exhale at different times.

He thinks Sir is god. God seems nice enough. He did though remind me of a chap in office who wears his pants too high. Except this one was Goan Christian with a slow Mother Teresa smile. He offered me a beer. I took the orange juice. He asked where I lived. They were going to Landmark to buy some books and CDs. They weren't in a hurry. Sit sit.

He played Misty. Then Arjun played Night and Day. Look, baba, I outed you. Then I asked God if Arjun was a good student. I got Mother Teresa-d again. "Yes, min" -- they say min, not men/man, remember, these beatific Goan Christians -- "he's the only one who can sit down and play something, not like these other exam givers."

Repeat smile. I liked the man. But I'm a slime. I asked, what isn't he good at?

"He's always in a rush. He can't slow down."

That I know. It was one of my earliest issues with him: "When do you do nothing"?

Later, when I brought up our rendezvous with Sir, Arjun seemed dejected -- that I didn't seem to love, worship, adore his Sir as much. "But I liked him!" didn't cut it.

I didn't care about where Sir tied his pants, or how high his cholestrol was, or even too much for his analogy that a music school without teachers is like a bakery without chefs.

"I was surprised you weren't more curious about him", he said to me. "Usually when you know two things about a person you use that to find out ten more."

I took this as a compliment. I was amused. "I believe you just called me a reporter, my friend!"

One sided heh.



Not that the flowering non-creeper on the roads of Delhi is an issue. But why the hell should he get excited about an is it a tree? is it a shrub? is it a...a..ummm? when I can't seem to sustain a level of interest in, like he says, anything that's a big, big part of who I am, such as Sir and the baby grand, and remembering the song goes Night and Day, not for heaven's sake, Day and Night.

Then I zone out. Yes, very good. Next.

I need to go to finishing school to disguise indifference and outright condescension, maybe incorporate in my wardrobe pinafores and learn to flash my 32 like M. Teresa. Maybe. Maybe in Switzerland, where Abhishek Bachchan studied -- what was the point of that, coming back with an accent, putting on weight, marrying ice princess and having the world think your father is bonking your wife? -- they have this tree and people well read enough to tell me what the hell it's called.

I don't like it, I decide -- the smell. But for the yea, yea sneaky feeling that I'm lying to myself. I turn my nose up and frown to myself, what is that smell. I'm obsessed. You can tell. I can see. I breathe so I can smell. I drive past parks and roads that grow this tree and take, like my yoga teacher loves to say, a good lungful of air. I take it in. I make a face. I drive past knowing fully well it's a winter tease, a preview to the full thing, a can't-be-helped, a hmm-nice. I'm guilty of a crush on a smell. Not a bad boy musky overtone. This one's a bit lazy, belongs near a hammock. Sweet, but definitely not chocolate. Savoury with an after taste of clove. So when I ask myself what is that smell, I'd like the name, yes, please. But I'm not asking about a source. I know where you're coming from. I just want to know what you're doing and if you'd prefer to sit in the sun or in the shade.


Perakath said...


Perakath said...

And 'Kim Coppola', apparently. Anyway, he's so ridiculous that his success as an Action Hero gives me hope for life.

Who's Arjun? :)

Snobster said...

I guess it's Mahua in hindi. I did a similar post (only couldn't express myself as well as you did to show how helpless one is to describe that smell).

The Mystic said...

Its not Raat ki rani? :| I always thought so, even today I "educated" people about the smell! But, it smells really nice! Find out what the flower is exactly! Do reporter stuff on it, prolly interview the shrub :P

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Capsicum sent me right to Show off. Still on the bumpy road to everlasting love? It's good to have a personal God in one's life. You should celebrate that he found one instead of worshiping whiskey and whores. That's how some people roll.

Anonymous said...

City of Angels? most definitely a terrible movie.

Nimpipi said...

Pera: You taught me something there! He is NOT ridiculous. Well ok, maybe a little, but hot-ridiculous is fine with me. Who's Arjun: haha. Just the insanely jealous man I once told you I'd marry. Check with me in a year if I kept my word.

Snobster: Mahua! Thank you! Honey tree, butter tree, Madhuca longfolia even.

Tribal people, men and women, consume this drink and is an obligatory item during celebrations and evening activities

Mystic: link for your benefit and mine. Done my reporter stuff on it, see:)

TUB: In these parts, we call it capsicum. Cross my heart etc. Ask anyone. Capsicum aloo is forever being made in my house. Aloo = potato in Hindi, pronounced aaa-looo. Ten points to you if you drop that in conversation with a New Yorker this week.

I have nothing against personal Gods. We just don't all need to have the same ones, is what I say. Imagine how left out mine would feel if I had one. Heh. Nevermind. Makes no sense.

Anon: Haha. I don't remember it for the most part, just Meg Ryan struggling to describe what an orange tastes like. Fine. I won't watch it again. Are you happy now?! :)

One of the five said...

I remember you once mentioned about writing a book .. I'll love to read that.
Every time I read your blog, I let out a sigh of my own and wish I could write half as good as you. :)

meineken said...

i smelt it yesterday, somewhere near panchsheel enclave. to me its the 'pre-diwali' smell.

i thought you could ask super's maali about it :)

Rakhi said...

You know you sound so so very zoned out in this post that it almost makes me laugh. Two thumbs up to you Nimpipi. It reads like a rambling, pointless no-nothing but in such a good, good way. Love the post!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about the same for last few days, googled about it, but cant seem to get to an answer, and I accidentally chanced on your blog from MAS's blog and there the first post had you wondering the same.

Anyways, I will put in my two cents, I think it is the blooming mango trees as there is nothing else I could put my finger to here in Noida. And I like that smell, and it hangs heavily especially in the late evening.

Anil P said...

October. Clouds of fragrance. Turn this way and that, and yet no hint from where. So the mystique endures.

It's the Devil's fragrance catching you unawares, from the Devil's Tree.

White flowers that stick close, as if in proximity with one another they seek to overpower the unsuspecting.

Yes, the October fragrance.

I pass it each day so that it sticks to me, like a memory, well almost.

There's history to the Devil's Tree, as mystical as its mystique.

If only you'd want to pursue it. Then there's no end, only a beginning - each time!