Olfactory Delectation

If you are on the internet – and let’s face it, if you are reading this, you are – you can’t help but get assaulted by all manners of lists.

Top 5 this and top 10 that and top 20 those.

Usually they are about characters or experiences or places or food or music

So all about vision or sound or sometimes taste.

Nobody ever writes about top 10 touchy feely stuff because lets face it, 8 of the top would be boobies (the other two being popable bubble wrap and football)


So that leaves smell.

We are biochemical beings and smell is an important part of our lives, but its sadly neglected.

Well, here’s one guy who appreciates smell.

And thus, am making this list.

A list of the best and worst smells in the world.


I should declare that these are a mix of generic and subjective (hey, am allowed to have a bias in my own blog). I fully realise that different people with have different preferences.

And of course then there are fetishes.

For example, my friend Gudduda the Dildo loves the smell of lipstick – not on women’s lips mind you; he actually likes the stick of the lipstick, he sticks them up his nose and takes deep breaths.

Different strokes for different folks I guess.

That being said, here’s my subjective views on the matter.


So what are the best smells in the world?

  1. Smell of old books, especially in an old bookshop – There’s College Street in Kolkata; if you are in Hyderabad, you can go to Abids on a Sunday or the best book shop near Lakdi ka Pool…but nothing beats an old library with hard bound books…the best smell in the world  stock-photo-a-wonderful-library-of-old-books-in-spain-88004329
  2. Grass and earth just after rain – People in modern cities won’t know what I am talking about. But if you are of a certain age, you can still remember the time when there were large patches of earth and grass near your house and the smell of said places just after rain
  3. Coffee – No explanation necessary (and no I don’t mean the decaf abomination or instant coffee, am talking of the gorgeous filter coffee you get in South India, especially in Karnataka)8470665558_8ed74d2775_o
  4. Person you love – We are biochemical people and smell is a great aphrodisiac. But am not talking of merely sex. At any time of the day, just a whiff of the girl you love transports you into a cocoon of warmth and peace and support [unless the girl has halitosis] Of course, as a heterosexual male who has been in love, I can only talk about things from my perspective, I can’t speak about whether the case of smell is the same for homosexuals or women.
  5. Football – If you don’t know this smell, I can only pity you
  6. Nolen gurer rosogolla – This is a typical Bengali thing. Its one of the biggest delicacies in Bengali cuisine, and since Bengalies are pretty much famous for eating and talking bollocks, I can assure you that we don’t take our delicacies lightly. For the non-Bongs and non-Indians, rosogolla is a sweet where dollops of cottage cheese are submerged in a sugary syrup. In this particular case, instead of sugar, they are submerged in liquid jaggery. bhikharam-(1)
  7. Alu bhaja – You take your potatoes, you cut them into strips (like French fries) and you fry them along with a little bit of jeera (cumin), some haldi (turmeric), a pinch of (dhaniya) coriander powder (salt and chilies to taste) c5bd61e7856e0ba1ab85034d73dc3074
  8. Crayons – I guess this brings back memories of childhood, so this smell always elicits pleasure.
  9. Spice markets – On their own spices smell awesome right? Pepper (morich), cumin (jeera), cardamom (elaichi), coriander (dhaniya), aniseed (sonf/mouri) , asafoetida (hing), bay leaf (tej patta), cinnamon (dalchini), cloves (labang), panch phoron, garam masala. All fabulous to taste ,all fabulous to smell. Now imagine all those fragrances together!!! Its fragrance heaven. And I got a whiff of that while loitering around Bikaner searching for the ancestral haveli of the Bhujiawalas. Inside the old city of Bikaner, there are lanes, then there are by-lanes and when you loiter in said by-lanes, you will come across the spice market. The market’s been there for hundreds of years and frankly speaking deserves a UNESCO tag just for the smell alone. I was so moved, so ecstatic that I ended up eating alu paratha with curd and achar…and I neither eat curd nor eat achar!!!!!
  10. Chocolate – The Incas greatest discovery/invention/development
  11. Grease – I don’t mean any grease; its the grease that comes from your bicycle/bike/car. Maybe, just maybe, the smell of grease or petrol gives us a feeling of escape, of adventure. It strikes us at the core of our sense of adventure.
  12. The Hollow Despair of Arsenal fans – IN ARSENE THEY TRUST


Now we come to the worst smells in the world


  1. Babies – Do you like the smell of poo? Do you like the smell of pee? Do you like the smell of vomit? Do you like the smell of malevolent evil? If the answer to those 4 questions is NO, then the answer to the next question will also be no. Would you like a smell which is a combination of pee, poo, vomit and malevolent evil? Because that’s what a baby is!
  2. Doggie farts – If you ever have or had a dog, you know this to be true. If you have never been close to a dog, you will have no idea what I am talking about. The odour is reminiscent of Beelzebub’s nether regions.
  3. Soiled socks – Especially during winter
  4. Sulphur – In my college, there was a Chemistry lab; and those Chemical bastards used to let off sulphuric stink bombs [it was an inter departmental rivalry thing – the Bengali department was pretty much all girls so they got a free pass, the Physics department was too busy disrupting the time space continuum to observe things happening around them and the Mathematics lot used to get confused by people talking to them – the rest were fair game; so the Chemical bastards had their stink bombs, we used to make speeches and poems about the controversial ancestry of the students of the other departments, the Statistics lot used to lie to get others in trouble, the Political Science lot all joined SFI {I once stood up against the whole might of SFI, and this was during the CPIM days of Bengal, and made them admit to being wrong and made them apologize – it remains one of my proudest achievements…and yes I have hated Commies even back then}, the Geology lot used to throw stones, the Geography lot used to get beaten up and nobody ever saw the history boys in college; the Biology lot were ever present but were too busy boinking each other, the horny bastards] and man they stunk.
  5. Hostel Loos – There are many of you who have never been to a hostel. You have always attended school/college/university from the comfort of your homes. You are extremely unlucky buggers because hostel life is awesome. It broadens your mind, opens up the world, makes you better human beings, gives you access to alcohol, cements friendships that last a lifetime – and if you are lucky, lets you have lots of sex. Hostel life is fantabulous, except for one thing – the loos. Here’s a tip if you are living or have to live in a hostel- try and find a germophobe OCD and customize your loo routine accordingly.
  6. Halitosis – Have you ever had to talk to a person with hailtosis. its a disease and they can’t help it, and so am not criticizing them or anything, but if they are talking to you, you dream and wish and hope for the sweet mercy of death to free you from that predicament.
  7. Inside a live temple – I don’t think there is a word for this heinous smell. Its a combination of dead flower, dead leaves, ghee, milk, ash and sweat of thousands of people. The feelings associated with this smell are suffocation and claustrophobia.
  8. Ghee – Ok this is a personal issue. I am allergic to this smell. It makes me pukish.
  9. Dead Rodents – Anything dead smells bad. But dead rats, mice and chunchos are ona different league altogether.
  10. LPG/CNG Gas – That shit will kill you
  11. Old unwashed linen and blankets in hotels and Indian trains – No explanation necessary
  12. Shutki mach – You take some fish, you kill said fish, but then you don’t eat said fish; instead you keep it under the sun for the next one month till it starts smelling like the farts of Chronos from the very pits of Tartarus.  Then, and only then, do you think worthy of eating. Sounds disgusting? Shutki mach is the national food of Bangladeshis.
  13. Bangladeshis

“Lungi amago nyachanal dress

Amago nam Bangladesh”

That’s part of the national anthem of Bangladesh. In itself, that would not have been a problem. The problem comes from the fact that the Bangladeshis don’t wash themselves after doing their business. So their lungis become a virtual cornucopia of such fragrances as pee, poo and semen. Moreover, halitosis is one of the most prevalent diseases in Bangladesh, along with diarrhea, dysentery and gonorrhea.

Moreover, as I already mentioned shutki mach is their national food. They cook a shutki macher jhal using liberal quantities of chilies and ghee.

So, you can imagine the fragrance.

If you are the adventurous sort and would like to experience this odour, come down to Salk Lake Stadium during any of the matchdays when East Bengal is playing. From around noon, you will see hordes and hordes of Bangladeshis home in on the stadium – pretty much like the scarab beetles in Mummy.

They will wear yellow shirts and jerseys along with their standard lungis and shout out stuff like

“mekure hurum khaiya hokkoiro korse” – a language unknown to human civilization and un-analyzable by human linguists.

The resultant stench from such a horde resembles Fukushima and Chernobyl.



So there you have it people, the best and worst when it comes to smell.


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