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A whiff of a familiar smell can magically transport one to times that now exist in one’s memories.
Growing up, I always woke up to the gentle yet strong smell of the ‘Old Spice’ after shave lotion, which my father would use when he was getting ready for the day ahead. As I brushed my teeth, the house would be permeated with the smell of sandalwood incense, while my father offered his early morning prayers. This was followed by the strong aroma coming from the brewing of fresh Assam tea in the kitchen.
Although I had been raised in Assam, our family was well travelled. By the time I had reached high school, I had almost traversed most of India. Quite naturally, my parents brought the whole world home. While our parents raised us with a strong Assamese sentiment, it was not unusual for us to sometimes have paratha (flatbread) or noodles for breakfast, or Idli (rice cake) for light evening snacks. It is interesting to note that the smell of ‘Sambhar’, which is an almost foreign aroma for a woman from the north-east, reminds me of home.
Idli is a dish that finds no semblance with our culture. But still my evenings in a sleepy town in Assam was filled with memories that smell like idli and sambhar. My mother often prepared the sambhar powder from a scratch. I loved to watch how the batter was put into the steel idli maker and magically transform into soft and puffy idlis. Having idli was a celebration of sorts because of the exotic nature of the dish in those parts. As I hung around with my mother in the kitchen, the whole household smelt of freshly made Sambhar powder.
It was much later that I got to know that idli is usually prepared for breakfast traditionally in South Indian households.
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idli#/media/File:Idli_-_A_Traditional_Indian_Food.JPG
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