soft and warm sandalwood.

smell and memoryThe other day I visited an aromatherapy centre, the healer had a vial of sandalwood oil.

The soft warm woody and balsamic fragrance. Yet it is a standalone fragrance.

It evokes mixed responses. A pleasant one as it reminds me of two important people in my life, my grandmother and my father.

Remember the hitopadesha story, where a fisherwoman visits her friend. Her friend looks after her very well organizes a mildly perfumed room for the night. But our fisherwoman finds it difficult to sleep. There is something about smell that triggers familiarity, responses, and memories.

My grandmother Parwati if alive today would have been 88yrs. Old, she was university educated an MSc. In Math.  There was something about her; she was very assertive without being aggressive. I remember the time she was diagnosed with cancer, when she told the doctor,

“With all your treatment I might live for another year, that too as a vegetable. I am 74yrs old I have had a great life let me go gracefully to my maker and thank her.” To her god was feminine.

Most of her conversations would incorporate some poetry or other tyagaraja being her favourite.

“Maa kelaraa vicharamo maruganna shri ramachandra” what do I know of anything Sri Ramachandra, was her tagline.

I can go on and on about this energy that inspired me. Sometimes I think my father and she were twin souls, they would think and react very alike. Except my father was very connected to nature.

. Neither used strong fragrances, with grandma, it was sachet between her clothes so there was just a hint of fragrance. It was so unique something strangely neither my mother nor aunt picked up I mean like a signature fragrance.

She would walk down to the temple square at Udupi, to Dinkar Bhat’s shop to pick up these sachet, he would try to get her to try the khus fragrance or the rose but it was always sandalwood, a box of 20 sachets.  They were sachet of pink satin, and had white lace work on them. This was her annual shopping.

As she placed these sachets between the clothes she would tell me, “this is an excellent anti-depressant, it is anti inflammatory, and do you know what inflammation is?”

“Anger” I would promptly reply,

Yes, anger of the body to insult”she would say.

It was only when I learnt pharmacology did I learn that sandal wood was also antifungal, astringent, sedative , insecticide, urinary and lung antiseptic and it relieved lung congestion and  nausea.

Sandalwood trees take about 50-80yrs to reach full maturity. The mature trees are cut down and left to eat by ants. The ants consume all but the fragrant heartwood and root, the sandalwood essential oil is distilled from this.

The fragrance is used to induce a calm and meditative state and it improves with age.indiblogger ambipur

When I smell the strong harsh fragrances of today, I really hanker for this soft ware woody and balsamic fragrance.

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