Between two pregnancies, I gave up perfume. I banned V from wearing certain scents. After the days of nausea passed, I found I didn’t quite appreciate perfume anymore. The fragrances I liked appeared to be coming from people’s body lotions. So these days I go with a scented body lotion, though the goodness does fade through the day.

I tried to list the things that set my nose of and my nerves tingling in a good way and I realised they are all tinged with nostalgia:

  1. Newborn baby smell, a combination of baby goodness, baby soap/lotion, and spit-up milk, which my kids no longer have.
  2. V’s perfume from way back when. I’m not sure which one it is (Issey Miyake?), but every time get a whiff of it, I’m transported back in time to when we were young and so in love and hot for each other.
  3. The smell of my late spaniel Zoya, particularly the spot where her long ears met her neck, and her chest.
  4. Ship smell, a combination of grease, air-conditioning and I don’t know what else. I’ve smelt it on land as well and I’m always taken back to the long marine journeys we did as kids on oil tankers.
  5. Bombay smell, the brine and shit combination of Mahim creek. In Hong Kong, we live a mountain away from a landfill and when the wind is blowing in a certain direction, we get a whiff that would make normal people hold their noses. But I breathe in deeply and think of where I came from, and my heart longs to go back.
  6. Daddy’s shirt smell, the smell of someone to lean on.
  7. Just cooked rice, particularly basmati
  8. First rain, or water on parched ground
  9. Paint, yeah, I have junkie in my genes
  10. Raat ki raani, another smell that takes me back to my roots

What are your favourite smells?