Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Delhi Smells, Mumbai Stinks


I take the Blueline buses to work daily. The smells and stinks on the bus have been a muse needing a vent for a long time now. In fact I have been so vocal about my smell issues on the blog, that this post will not be a big surprise for the regulars to my blog space. As if the smells and stinks of the fellow passengers on board the Blueline Delhi buses was not enough of an inspiration, I chanced to make a visit to Mumbai and experience the concoction of smells on board the ladies compartment in the local trains of the city. 

This post should not in any circumstance be taken in a light vein. I am discussing matters that might have dire consequences on the smelling prowess of the generations to come. Let me be partial as usual and talk about Delhi first. 

It is summers, the ideal time for the flourishing of varied smells, odors and stinks. The bus that I take has an eclectic mix of passengers. There are people like me, who spend a fortune on deodorants and perfumes in a desperate attempt to save themselves from death due to smell, there are others, who believe the more you stink the better and some have body odor because they genuinely have no means to have even a decent bath. I have no qualms with the third category. But the first two varieties combine to treat my nostrils with a blend of odour that qualifies me to receive the highest global honours. Let me explain how it works, a man standing right in front of me, while I am seated, will very artistically break wind. Another one will lift his hand up so that his underarms are aired and the passing wind carries the fragrances of the juices produced in the cozy comfort of his armpits. Added to this, an aunty who decided that wearing flowers with very strong fragrance in her hair and not removing them even at evening when they have wilted and turned brown… all this creates a concoction that most of you might never chance to experience. I feel sorry for you.


Next are the Mumbai stinks. Mumbai Local train, second class ladies compartment at peak hour. The women keep repeating “peechhe se pressure aa raha hai” (I am feeling the pressure from behind). Initially I thought, Mumbai women are liberated in the truest sense of the word. Maybe the theory I had given was being practiced openly in the financial capital of India. However, after 3 long journeys aboard the trains of Mumbai, I understood the real meaning, they were talking about being pushed from behind and making the previous statement in defense to the ladies, who question being pushed. Now back to smells. I rarely like to say that Mumbai is better than Delhi, but on this occasion, Mumbai wins hands down. The main ingredients of Mumbai Stinks are: coconut oiled hair, gajras (small garlands put on hair buns or plaits), the body odour caused by the killing humidity, the fish baskets being carried by women, the powder that most of them had applied 12 hours ago (the same time they had had a bath too) that turns into a gooish kind of black pulp resting on their neck lines and last but not the least, itr or traditional perfumes that most of them adorn themselves with. Now at least once in your life you must be able to enjoy the company of these women, who provide a free of cost body massage while traveling in the local train compartments. Sadly, I cannot comment on the men’s compartment rather general compartment (poor men, there are no special compartments for them :P) because I did not have the privilege to travel in one of those. 

Hoping that your life Smells great… just as mine does :-)

12 comments:

. said...

..Mumbai..! The city wherein you must.."go with the flow" ! I dont know what impressions you had abt mumbai..but for me, its the most beautiful city anywhere. That's one point I am little peeved abt..how dare you mention mumbai in such a condescending vein :) !!

..oh but I know..delhi ppl always like to look down upon mumbai. But..mumbai..couldnt care less !

Sorry abt that...just made me really worked up..!! ha ha !

. said...

..i think you must have gotten into the wrong compartment !! fish-baskets..:D..that's the vendor's car..!! ..so you must have smelt something unique..something like ambrosia..that us ordinary mortals never mamage to smell !! :D :D ..

oh I wish I saw you in the vending car..! ha ha !

vrittant said...

hahaha! wat a wndrful read dat was! reminded me of smthng i was tellng a cousn of mine a few days back; dat how d delhi metro has reduced the opprtunities that delhiites got of interacting with each other..in a golden era, not long ago, delhiites were so fond of rubbing shoulders and several other parts of the anatomy with each other, while travelling in crowded delhi buses..a little bit of elbow in ur ribs, a little bit of my sweat on ur neck was the favourite anthem in those days..den came d delhi metro n den d new, swanky, low floored, high capacity buses, which have made human touch a novelty..u dont get to touch ppl anymore..sad na? i knoooo!!!

Gurneet said...

and what about the people who decide to save water by wearing same socks for whole week or the others who don't even care to wear them at all....then there are these conductors/helpers who consider tobacco there staple food... :P

very expansive and funny write-up as always..:) making me miss Delhi or India even more now.. :(

Indrajit said...

lol lol ..
awsome post .kudos !

swatimala said...

funny 1...but i travel by mumbai trains everyday...at peak hrs...and fisherwomen r not allowed!!!

hilarious otherwise...i enjoyed tht line, pressure aa raha hai...i hear it everyday

humanobserver said...

A common problem not only in Mumbai and Delhi but also across the country. I can say only that it is due to lack of civic sense and conscience power among people !

rahul said...

awesome post! nice way to project such a ' grave' issue in a lighter vein..yet not making it sound frivolous!!!!

must say u have keen observation...or smell :P

Da Eternal Rebel said...

Wish you had said something about the "fragrances" of Chennai too...

btw a very nice style of writing. You Rock!

Anoil said...

Hey I finally got the time to reply to your Smells and Stinks! U don't know how much I was waiting to comment on the topic, considering the fact that I spent 4 yrs writing on the issue.. he he....
In a way I do agree that twitching your nose early in the morning is not the ideal thing to do, especially when you take all the pain and ofcouse shell money to purchase those expensive deos. But smells and stinks atleast for me is very significant, I relate events, people and places with it... For instance, when my father came back from office he had this typical odour something I loved it coz it made me feel "My Daddy Strongest." My mom on the other hand always smelled like a rose, I loved smelling her hair....
Its not just your parents. For instance, the place we live... soon after I enter my colony, the near by dumpster stinks and its nice to be back home, although each time I say "what is that smell" but without the stink there would something be missing!!!! Although, I wud like to get rid of it once in a while....
There was this one time, I smelled the early morning breeze and it reminded me of my hostel days, getting up at 5 in the morning and getting ready for the entire grilling session.... Gawd it reminded me how I used to get bullied by my class mates and seniors and how I hated girls eating all my tuck......I hated that early morning fresh air.... and this other time I related my body oudor to my ex's hand... smelled the same!!!!!
But ya each time I climbed on that over crowded bus I had no other option but to twitch my nose... but u know what, there is no fun riding on those jam packed busses without its true essence.... So lets just be thankful that Smell and Stinks are alive and kicking, and our lives are full of them.... Happy stinking people!!!!!! My life stinks damn gud and hope your too....

Anu said...

Hahaha, I choose to take lightly the issue of 'Smells & Stinks' but you have truly awakened the senses of the Mumbai local train travellers. It's more a population issue here, than the smells. If only there were a couple of inches between each train passenger, things would be different.

Yuraisha said...

i love mumbai.... I first went to india when i was a little girl and it scared me because i was to young to experience in your face poverty then i went to mumbai again when i got married as i married an indian man. I love north Mumbai i love the shopping and i have to say its much cleaner there If i go to a place like Haji ali my god it stinks really bad. Far to much of pollution and dirt everywhere. Indians really need to clean this city and stop blaming Bihari's and people from UP for the dirt. Its also your city so clean it up if you see trash lying around.clean it.Scream and people throwing rubbish. Tell people they need to shower. Indians are scared of the government they dont say anything thats why the government can be corrupt and treat you people badly stand up for your rights and vote. DOnt let uneducated people only vote. You need to help the country by doing your share of social responsibility. Dont only blame the government.