Monday, October 19, 2009

Non sequitur

Suddenly, I can smell aloo bhaja. Potatoes, fried. Not jhuri bhaja, which is crisp potato shavings, fine strands that crunch in the mouth, flavours added with kari pata, fried red chillies and perhaps peanuts as well. Not the roundels, the potato slices that may or may not be crisp at the edges and faintly sweet if made from fresh potatoes in winter.

No, what I suddenly smelt – sitting in office, windows closed, cup of post-lunch coffee steaming on my table – was the thick limp greasy flabby listless slivers of aloo bhaja that would make me depressed when served by relatives at lunch. Haven’t touched that junk in years. Decades, even. Yet such is the perversity of the human mind, nostalgia nudged me towards desiring those too. All from the memory of a smell.

I’d say that rates as a pretty acute observation of the human predicament. Right up there with Maugham’s Of Human Bondage, which my father considers one of the greatest novels ever written and I found a load of irritating crap (perhaps because I was about 14). You don’t agree? With any of those three assertions? There you go, human failing again. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to do some research on the local availability of aloo bhaja


Lazyani said...

I loved that greasy stuff with the equally greasy 'Maida'r luchi'. But obesity coupled with hypertension has made these things a part of vitual reality for me.

And don't you remind me of them again!!!!

Idling in Top Gear said...

Reminds me of when I had a craving for some steamed tapioca once, even though I hated the damn thing.

Neeraj Banerji said...

km said...

So aloo is the new madeleine?

//I'm not a Maughham fan, so I concur with the fourteen year-old JAP. Or maybe I will read that novel again one of these days.

Anonymous said...

I'm going off Dannon strawberry yogurt. Ugh!!

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eve's lungs said...

Food smells are evocative . I prefer The Razor's Edge .

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Weird, I just posted something on smell the other day. Now i am feeling very hungry. I dont even like greasy stuff.

Also how are you?

Rimi said...

Have you ever had Medinipur Shilpo Mondirer joaaner guli? They're tiny piquant little black things that, and this is the vital diff. from the equivalent from the better-known Jaino Shilpo Mondir brand, slightly sweet. And when you open a new bottle, there's a sharp smell that combines jowaan, a slight hint of tang with a suggestion of spicy saltiness.

I've commissioned a bottle from home. My parents are perplexed, but fortunately, indulgent.

So I understand, yes.

Ariblogga said...

I am enjoying reading your blog...started with the archives now!!!