Powder Your Nose..

Powder Your Nose..


Vivek Hande


The sense of smell is a very important one and does contribute to the sense of taste as well. The sense of smell has a lot of emotional connect as well, as it is linked to memory in many ways. Smell triggers memories, passions, excitement, dreams, desires and what have you!


Without nose-diving too deep into the business of smelling, it must be understood that humans are not as good at the business of smelling as say, dogs and rabbits. Man has about five to six million olfactory receptors high up in the nasal passages as opposed to a rabbit which has about a 100 million and a dog, which on average has about 220 million receptors. Hence, a dog is a much better “smeller”. Women are regarded as having a more acute sense of smell compared to men- no surprises there! There are a few basic smells – Fragrant/ Floral; Fruity; Citrus; Mint; Woody; Resinous; Pine/ Grass; Chemical(Ammonia/ Bleach); Sweet ( Chocolate/ Vanilla) and a few others . If a person can’t smell completely or partially, he is Anosmic. Hyposmia and Hyperosmia refer to a reduction or an exaggerated sense of smell. Parosmia refers to perceiving a smell as worse than it is. Phantosmia is smelling odors which are not there. The sense of smell develops progressively after birth and generally plateaus by eight years of age.  It then declines with age, with certain medications and with chronic colds. When a person smells, the information is sent to two areas of the brain – the Frontal Lobe which helps recognize odors and the Limbic System which is linked to memory – it is for this reason that a particular smell or aroma brings back pleasant or unpleasant memories!


It is so often that a particular smell brings back so vividly images of a particular event or a memory or an association with a person. The smell of hot Dosas on a Tawa may take you back to your childhood; the strong smell of rich coffee may transport you to a lovely morning in a Parisian café; the smell of fresh grass being cut may take you several years back to a Cantonment where you grew up; a particular cologne may remind you of a particularly stylish professor; the smell of earth just after some rain(petrichor) may take you back to a holiday in the hills; the smell of a delicate perfume may bring back memories of your first date and may actually remind you of what she was  wearing- such is the strong association of memories with smells!


Smells are expensive and a bottle of the DKNY Golden Delicious Million will set you back by a cool Million Dollars. Of course, in addition to the fragrance, the bottle does add to the cost. One of a kind bottle, designed by jeweler Martin Katz, the bottle has a 2.43 Carat Yellow Canary Diamond on the cap. It does also have a lot more diamonds, rubies, sapphires embellishing the bottle.  A reasonable second is the Clive Christian Number 1 Imperial Majesty perfume smelling at $ 13000 an ounce! It lists as its ingredients Oris Root, Rose Oil, Tahitian Vanilla, Ylang-Ylang, Italian Cinnamon and Jasmine.  Anyone interested in powdering ones’ nose?


Each one has his list of special smells. High up on my list is the smell of the pages of a book. Nothing can quite match the smell of a book as far as I am concerned.   One can never go wrong with the aroma of freshly brewed strong coffee. Lemon, Vanilla, Petrol, Freshly baked Cookies or a Cake- smells to die for. And then there is the smell of fear; the smell of excitement and the smell of possibility – all very strong and evocative smells! One can smell blood and one definitely can perceive the smell of success. It’s quite often that we do smell a rat and know that something smells fishy. Its best, perhaps to keep ones’ nose out of other people’s business and keep ones’ nose held high or there is a strong possibility that your reputation may nosedive!

 And the sense of smell is a very individual trait. The way I sense or perceive a smell may be quite different from the way you sense it .Be that as it may , do stop to smell the Roses once awhile – you will be a happier person. Do believe me and I am honestly not being nosy!!


Food For Thought

Food  For Thought


Vivek Hande


You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food, famously remarked a wise man. GB Shaw is right on many levels, when he remarked, “There is no sincere love than the love of food.” It is a fact that nothing else, other than music, perhaps, has the strength to bring people bring together. That food is central to existence was acknowledged by Hippocrates who is wrote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.



And then there are so many variations to how and what people eat. You could be a garden variety of a Vegetarian or you could be more specifically a Lacto-Vegetarian (exclude eggs and other foods which contain Rennet) or you could be an Ovo-Vegetarian (no dairy) or you could be a more rounded Ovo-Lacto –Vegetarian. One could be a Vegan (abstaining from all animal products, dairy included). As a  Vegan, you could be a Dietary Vegan(no eating animal derived products) or an Ethical Vegan (not using any animal derived products in any sphere of life). One may be a Piscetarian/Pescetarian(both correctly spelled) and have only marine products and avoid poultry /egg. Well then, you could also be a Pollotarian (and have only poultry and chicken). Believe me, you could be a vegetarian and eat only Kangaroo meat as an exception- you would then be a Kangatarian! Kangaroo meat is exported to more than sixty countries!


It is natural that the English language incorporates food and fruit and vegetables in common usage. It would be a natural progression of thought, in a manner of speaking. You could be somebody’s apple of the eye or you could be a rotten apple spoiling things for others. But, it may not be correct to compare apples and oranges nor would it be right to upset the apple cart. You may need to become an apple polisher to curry favor with powers that be in a Banana Republic. You may go bananas or choose not to give a fig, if things don’t go quite your way. One may behave pea brained and do all the wrong things when you are in a pickle or remain cool as a cucumber. Alternatively you could extend an olive branch and try to make up with your detractors or behave spoil sport and claim that you are going to spill the beans, even though it is believed that you don’t quite know your beans!!


One could sulk and feel morose if one doesn’t get a plum assignment or bad mouth your boss or colleague consequent to a bad case of sour grapes. When the chips are down and things are not going your way, you could give it all up saying it is not your cup of tea or you could butter up the right folks to ensure that you do finally get to cut your cake and have it too! I do believe, it is best not to put all eggs in one basket though. Sometimes, one has to keep ones’ ears open to listen to the grapevine and figure out who the big cheese is and then play your cards well –it may help you to pluck the low hanging fruit and your hard work might actually bear fruit. But one cannot always trust the grapevine and one may have to take certain things with a pinch of salt and things do have a way of getting pear shaped(go wrong)rather quickly , if one does not remain alert.

At the end of it all, one has to follow ones’ gut feelings if one wants to continue to bring the bacon home. Each one has to chart out ones’ own path – everybody can’t be the same as peas in a pod.  One has to figure out which side the bread is buttered. But as they say, when life serves you lemons, make lemonade!!


Handwriting : It Says a lot about you..

Handwriting: It says a lot about you!


Vivek Hande


Your handwriting is just about as unique as you. It does say a lot about you. In the world of computers, tablets, smart phones and laptops, we are increasingly forgetting to write and we merely type. But there is something exciting and mysterious and I daresay, special about the flow of the pen on the paper. The written word will still find its place – to do lists, prescriptions, signatures, all would be hopelessly drab and without character if not handwritten. A love letter – typed out in Times Roman or Arial- absolute  blasphemy!!


The written word goes a long time back. Though it must be pointed out that the use of numbers as symbols and some mean of communication or record keeping preceded the written word or some semblance of communication through language. The origin was obviously through Proto-Writing through the use of symbols/ mnemonic symbols to convey idea/information. Jiahu symbols on tortoise shells are the earliest recorded symbols of proto writing from 6600 BC. Over a period of time, it evolved to Linguistic Writing, which encodes almost the exact thought meant to be conveyed. This process has been slow and steady and constant and yet dynamic. Along this process, various different scripts and writing forms have developed and died.

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Sumer, Southern Mesopotamia, is widely regarded to be the origin of the written word (cuneiform) around 3100 BC.  Around the same time, the concept of a script evolved in MesoAmerica with the Olmec/Zapotec script of Mexico regarded as one of the oldest. Independent writing systems evolved in Egypt (3100BC/Heiroglyphs) and China (1200 BC).  The Indus script of the Bronze Age Indus Valley is still largely undeciphered and one is not certain whether it was linguistic or some other kind of communication. Quite naturally, trade and travel contributed to the spread of language and also brought in diverse influences into the evolution.

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Then came the era of the Greek script, which was the source of many subsequent European Scripts including Latin.  The next big milestone in the evolution was the emergence of the Arabic script which coincided with the emergence of Islam. Arabic became the primary script for Persian and Turkish language and contributed to the spread of the Hindu-Arabic numeral system through the world.  Religion has always played a role in the spread of the written word. The monks in the 8th Century spread the use of the Carolingian Script, because of its ease of use. It was modified during the Renaissance period. They modified it to make it more ornate by slanting the script – since this originated in Italy –it came to be called “Italic “!!


The evolution of writing material used over the ages also makes for a fascinating story.  Engravements on stone/ metal/ terracotta/ gypsum changed to the use of roll/ papyrus/ reed in Egypt. Others used parchment made of sheep skin. Paper was invented by the Chinese in 105 AD. Computers have changed the way we think of writing today. The way you type doesn’t really tell much about you- since the way you write does tell a good deal about you or is supposed to – it has evolved into a pseudoscience. Graphology is the science which analyses the handwriting and helps infer something about your personality/ attitude/character. There are Bachelors and Masters Degree on offer in Argentina, Spain and Italy on Graphology. It is a different matter that a master treatise on the subject by Geoffrey Dean , based on a meta analysis of 200 papers on the subject , largely debunked the predictive value of personality inference based on handwriting.


Handwriting Analysis for forensic purposes is a different story all together. Since the handwriting is like a fingerprint, experts use it to prove cases of forgery or fraud. I do know of a colleague, who used to sign bank cheques with his wife’s signature for purpose of convenience, at times – now every time his wife issues a cheque , it is turned down by the bank – “Signature does not Match”! Doctors (self included) are notorious for their bad handwriting. It perhaps stems out of lots of writing to be done in compressed time periods in formative years at medical school. Some (a few) do survive and go on to write beautifully. This has prompted various Medical Councils to legislate writing of prescriptions in Capital letters to avoid prescription errors.  The use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), will aid in more legible notes and lesser errors.  I had a colleague, a psychiatrist, who would write opinions and case notes and would come over to ask me to decipher what he had written after a few hours! Well you may not be able to read a Doctor’s notes or prescription, but you will note that the bill is always neatly typewritten!!


I do believe we need to use the pen and paper more often. In the era of copy –paste, many institutions insist on hand written submissions of papers. And after years of usage of the keyboard, it does appear a struggle. I have often felt, I can understand a subject better and remember far more facts when I write them down.   As a student, one of my friends would tell me, having a bad handwriting was advantageous:  nobody would borrow your notes; seniors would not burden you with written assignments to be copied; spelling mistakes would go unnoticed!!  Well, that is a perspective. But it is also true, that if one gets a note or a letter with a beautiful hand, one does think better of the writer – visual impressions do stick strong.

To quote Gandhi, “I saw that bad handwriting should be seen as a sign of bad education”. Be that as it may, I do urge you, leave the keyboard once a while – take out your writing instruments: there is no greater joy than the flow of pen on paper!!