Last night I looked around frantically to find something to soothe my dry, irritated skin. My skin has sensors that predicts climate change, it immediately starts changing once it detects a weather change. And so since the last two days, my skin and the climate has gone from being normal to now dry/scaly (and the weather, moody and cold); it's official, winter is here. So with this, I looked around the apartment to find something that would comfort my skin, sing it a lullaby and send it to soft cloudy, marshmallow-y land. I didn't want any of the creams that I wear during the day - they were strong scented and wouldn't do much to my skin. I didn't want any of the oils - heavy, and greasy. and then this caught my eye - Nivea. A product that has stood the test of time. I grabbed it, drew a big dollop and smothered it on my hands, legs and face. This was exactly what I wanted, my skin to be embraced in this soft, healing, comforting blanket of creamy goodness. The smell enveloped me, the creamy goodness of the cream kept my skin supple until the morning. I slept like a baby.
This morning I woke up refreshed, and my skin felt great. Along with my morning coffee, I began thinking of how smells can also be so comforting. Along with comfort food, comfort smells is also its own driving force. And if your like me, I smell first. a hug, a whiff of someone passing by, and also breathe. While I agree, it's important to smell good, I also think its equally important to have a good breath; I get edgy if someone want to tell me a secret, or if I have to stand close to someone to have a conversation; I'd be horrified if they had bad breath. don't ask why, I just felt it was important to put that out there. For me, it's all in the smell. It also got me thinking about how people in my life smell, like I fondly remember how my Ammuma used to smell, I miss that. If you live with your family, you would know how they smell too. Each member, although living under the same roof, eating the same food, smell different. Like my dad, he smells like a mixture of coffee, talcum powder, and coconut oil, brother smell of strong perfume (Axe types), coffee, hair gel and cigarettes; and mum - Ginger and Cucumber. Our house would smell of flowers, incense, coffee and fish; strange combination, but one of these smells are always omnipresent. Talking about family, i have recently dug up old pictures all the way back to 1942. These beautiful black and white beauties, old photographs have their own scent I absolutely love. I imagine it like a mixture of the person taking the picture, the smell of the room, the smell of the people photographed, the smell of the place, all in that one photograph. Enchanting.
Talking about old photographs of people and places - I remember going to Kerala this summer. Mum, my aunt and I travelled by the Garib Rath. Let me leave my own quote, describing it; "Once I stepped out of the compartment, the heat just hit me in my face, there was no mistaking that humid weather and the smell, it's a very distinct smell I identify with Kerala, its that sea mixed with sweat smell that I cannot miss. I actually love the humid sweaty Kerala heat, I feel it does wonders for my skin, although in the moment I crib about the sweat and the heat, but I slyly love it. "
When I enter others homes too, smells are always something that catches my attention. I would get an idea of what the host has prepared or bought, the smell of ghee in homes during Diwali, the smell of cinnamon, cloves, rum during Christmas, the smell of vanilla and chocolate for a dessert, the smell of coconut, onion, milk, jaggery, flowers, turmeric during Onam - these are smells that are ingrained in most of us. As a child too, when i went to my friends houses to play, I remember those smells; from Bisibelllebath to Biryani! I remember this one home we looked forward to going to - their dinners were such a treat for all of us. Their mix of spices for beef and pork filled up their house and the entire floor. It was like a tease, all the aroma, a taste of what was to come, and then some! Although I'm not religious, I love entering temples for the symphony of the bells, prayers, chanting, drums, and in the midst of all this - the smells of smoked ghee, coconut shells, sambrani, flowers and a hint of the prasadam awaiting me. I feel transported already!
And now with winter dawned upon us, I find myself reaching out for spices like ginger, cinnamon, to warm up my curries, buying meat like mutton, ordering steaming hot soups with mushrooms teamed with warm bread. Just thinking about it makes me warm and happy inside. Along with comfort food, this season my nose is on high alert looking for warm scents. I'm also going to be loading up on some good old cold creams with vanilla, chocolate, pumpkin, cinnamon notes. What about oils you ask -Mustard and almond oil - pre-shower routine check!
What about you? I would love to hear about your go to winter scents and creams. Tell me what scents you would call comforting.