The aroma of Rajasthan

 

As is always happening these days, I find myself very absorbed in the topic that I blogged about and hence unable to resist writing another post… My last post about the evocative powers of smells and fragrances during our various travels really hit the right chord somewhere within me. I think the reason is that the more I thought about it, the more I was got convinced that while we can forget the sights or sound of a place, but we can never quite forget the smells. So many times I thought that I had forgotten the fragrance of a place, but when I smelt something that reminded me of it, the entire experience literally played out itself in front of my mind’ eyes :)

I’ll share an example. I had been to Rajasthan many meany eons ago, and had almost forgotten about the trip. But then recently when ‘Choki dhani’ opened in our city, we decided to go there as a family. And once we went there, it was like an assault on my senses. It was like a déjà vu that I never expected. The smell of Rajasthani food like daal baati choorma, mixed with the smell of traditional sweets on the culinary side; then the smell of local fabrics and items; added to it the smell of desert sand that somehow permeated from all artisans present there – it took me back many decades right to the day when I had first set foot in Rajasthan!

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And being shaken in this manner, to my very being, I had to write a post about those aromas of Rajasthan that I suddenly seemed to remember as if it all happened just yesterday! These are some mages that my mind presented me with, once Rajasthan came flooding back to me with all its smells:

  • The vibrant rich smell of its soil: The soil in Rajasthan has the richness of the desert that it uniquely boasts of. Everywhere I went, that faint whiff was in the air till it entered me and became a part of me. I think the sand and the soil of Rajasthan is so unique that you can’t find anything any like it anywhere in the entire world.

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  • The sandalwood incense: I went for a lot of artistic performances. Everywhere there was a unique aroma of sandalwood mixed in the air, maybe because it is considered so pure and pious!
  • The spice brews in the market: In a lot of places where I went, especially the markets and restaurants, there was a heady aroma of spices. The Rajasthani food is a fascinating unique craft and the spices are a large part of its brilliance. I picked some spices for back home which got over with time, but their aromatic magic? It stayed with me forever.
  • The smell of barbecue wherever we had grilled food in the open. I’m not sure if this is because a lot of forts in Rajasthan have been converted into large expansive hotels, or it is do something with the earth there, but whether it be fresh vegetables like cauliflower, fresh fruit like pineapples or meats; the charcoal and barbecue smells are magical for all foodies in Rajasthan.
  • Flowers of the Rajasthani women. I saw many women wearing flowers on their hair, when we entered the hotel we were garlanded by some women and when we went to the temples or markets there were lots of flowers too; somehow my memories of Rajasthan are filled with these sensuous flowers, jasmine, mogra, roses… Or was it just the women themselves? Soft, unassuming, motherly… :)

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This is another post inpired by the inspirational Godrej Aer! Since I never had a camera when I traveled to Rajashan many years ago, all images are from pixabay.