I don’t think much about my sense of smell unless it’s after 6pm at night and I’m walking past KFC or chinese takeaway on the way home from work. But like sound or sight, smell can just as easily transport us to another time and place.
I contemplated this earlier today as I showered after an early-morning gym session. I have a myriad of bottles in my work locker toiletry bag and grab whatever one’s handy. There are those I’ve filled with ‘soap on tap’ from home as well as a few bottles or tubes I’ve pilfered* from hotels.
Today my fumbling hand reached a tube of bath/shower gel from a hotel I stayed at while in Melbourne in April. And… immediately the scent hit my nose I was taken back there. From the tube itself I wouldn’t have been able to identify its source, but the smell did it all!
In my late teens / early 20s I was a lover of the perfume Fendi (which I’m not sure you can still get). Years later, when I again rediscovered it, I was transported back to a house I shared in the late 1980s with two Uni friends, who remain two of my best friends today.
When I travelled overseas a lot, I made it a point NOT to take perfume, requiring me to buy duty free perfume as I left the country or entered another. Days, months and years after a trip the scent would take me to a variety of destinations. Hypnotic Poison in particular still reminds of me a tropical hotel room in Fiji in 1998.
The smell of authentic asian cooking foists me back to the eight months I lived in Cambodia, while a roast dinner brings memories of family celebrations and my mum using the good crockery.
Of course not all smells are pleasant. To this day I cannot stand the smell of Bundaberg Rum having overdosed on rumballs – to the point of projectile vomiting – as a kid. While stale beer and cigarette smoke reminds me of a ill-advised dalliance.
I’m about to head back to my childhood home where the sights, sounds AND smells bring back all sorts of memories. Good and bad.
Is there anyone out there, I wonder, who does NOT pocket the little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower/bath gel when they stay in hotels?
I mean, it’s not like I swipe the pillows or the bathrobes or towels. And basically… you generally pay through the nose at decent hotels, so little sewing kit sachets are really there for the taking aren’t they?
To my oh-so-logical mind, they’re there to use, so if you don’t use them, they’re still yours by default. (And of course if you’re there a few nights you need to pocket them each day, just to get value for your money!)