Odors

odors

For thousands of years living without electricity and toothpaste, our forefathers, free of matrimonial restraints forced later by patriarchate, used to choose intimate partner by smell, as many mammals do. Probably the ability of humans to perceive odors partly degenerated with time. But even now in epoch of commercial odorants and perfumes, when a powerful flavor and fragrance industry work on supreme goal to liberate humankind of its natural smells, what innate odor we emit through deodorant cover plays certain role in our life. Even more significant role plays such instrument of intuition as natural skill to perceive subtle distinctions of smells.

First of all, we instantly perceive threatening smells. Those around us who are overtaken by anger or resentment may emanate sour stench. When we feel frustrated in response to real, or more often – to imaginary events, our thoughts powerfully influence biochemistry of our body. Our adrenal glands start secreting stress hormones, stomach produces more gastric acids and salivary glands – more saliva containing steroids, all this results in “bad breath”. When we surrender to floods of negative thoughts and have loathsome moods corresponding to these thoughts, our perspiration, urine and exhale starts to smell bad. Our feces poison environment by the same stinking agents of frustration with one-two day’s delay. Perhaps dogs, which choose to bite, or not to bite somebody, react to the degree of anger smell victim has at the moment.

The quality and quantity of food we consume also contributes to our natural odor. What we eat becomes part of us. The crimson nuances in face of sausages eater and his breath differ from breath and appearance of vegetarian. Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine are often responsible for bitter nasty smell of our perspiration and breath. Beer and cheap wine prodigals breathe out smell of aggression and yeast.
Body odor is race and nationality sensitive. It is influenced by climate and culinary traditions. When I visited Kenya and Caribbean islands, I discovered that Africans and creoles smelled different than white Europeans, and their body odor was more intensive. Once I had Jewish boyfriend, who asserted that all Jews had specific body odor due to filled fish they often eat. At that time I could easily distinguish between Asians and Russiasn by smell of sheep fat the eaters of Asian dishes emanated. Asian women also smelled strongly of curdled milk, which they applied to nourish and vitalize their hair.

When I pay routine visit to district gynecologist and spend significant amount of time in reception room together with 8-10 other female patients – of Arabic, Turkish and Egypt origin, all dressed up according to Islamic traditions, the atmosphere there is heavy. Perhaps, it is cumulative emanation of fear in the air. If emigrants happen to be deprived and poor, their wives are doubly so, being in addition abused by members of their families and men. Many women still play conventional role of domestic servants and smoothing-blows-of-destiny buffer for men. They emanate the fluids of shortage in which they are forced to live. Some women habitually eat only “leftovers” (as in prehistoric societies of exclusively masculine mammoth hunters) and trying to save money, they do it on their own expense. They deny themselves simple joys of healthy food and visiting stores in search for items of private hygiene.

Galina Toktalieva

Kyrgyzstan-born author residing in Graz, Austria

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