The Colours of Smell

Associations are how we deal with things. It makes it easier to remember, and at times describes the character of an object that may defy description through any other means. Odour at times brings a colour to my mind. The colour defines the odour and describes it, almost like a visual representation of smell.

Walking down the street on a dry morning, will bring you the smell of dust and dirt, a golden yellow with hints of brown and a bit of grey from residual exhaust fumes. If it rained, you smell wafts of light blue, and hints of light green in the air. Unfortunately, tainting these colours of smell, will be dark browns, or dark green-browns, from dog and cow excrement. If it is particularly fresh, not only do you smell dark brown, but you smell warm dark brown.

Getting in the bus is when the real trouble starts. If you are lucky, it will just be the yellow, of body odour, with grey fumes outside. If it is mid-day, or after work, you find the yellow, starting to collect tinges of moss-green, and hints of brown. Sometimes colours, which remind you of pea-soup gone bad, float around and then you stick your head out the window (if you are lucky) and gladly breathe in the grey fumes. I don’t even want to talk about the colours that emerge if someone has a bad case of flatulence.

On a happier note, the smell of food brings out colours too. Italian food smells herby green, while Sri Lankan is a dark roasted brown and Indian is a reddish brown. British food is just plain white, while fatty foods usually smell a sunny yellow. I am not sure about Chinese food, as I am yet to taste authentic Chinese that is not influenced by the local spices, or preparation. Bread smells light brown, while chocolate cake is a heavy heavy brown.

As for people, babies invariably smell milky white, while children smell light yellow. Women are lighter shades of brown and yellow and green (Some of them anyway) while men are dark and heavy greens and browns. When it comes to perfumes, Boss’ Soul is a deep purple, while CK’s Contradictions is a fizzy orange. Ralph Lauren is a kind of fizzy pink. Denim is a grey-blue, and Brute is a blue-green. Fahrenheit is a sort of sunset-orange-yellow and Old Spice is a Brownish-Orange.

Its funny how you associate one sense with another at times.. Computers are a steel grey while books are a wizened-yellow. Other people probably do this too, or maybe its just me. But by VIBGYOR its great to have an imagination!


1 comment
  1. anon said:

    I have a middleeastern friend who hates the smell of fish, seaweed, oranges and mandarines.

    I find this strange; I love the smell of oranges and manderines. My theory is that it it is because I am from the tropics, where everything smells! We are surrounded by growth and decay of lush vegetation in this hot humid climate with heady smells like jasmine, being carried through the hot, humid air and unfortunately strong pongy ones since things rot easily in our climate and the heat carries these odours towards us quite easily.

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