Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sniffing Down Memory Lane

Today, I washed my hair with Sunsilk Black shampoo. And the smell took me back to a much simpler time, about 15 years or so ago, when fancier brands of shampoo hadn't entered the Indian market, and one's choices were limited to the various colours of Sunsilk, a few brands here and there, shikakai, and anything your generous relatives from abroad were nice enough to bestow upon you.

I was reminded of a summer holiday at my nani's house, when almost all my maternal cousins (about 15 of them) were also on holiday from their various courses or, in some cases, jobs. We would sit through the long summer days, playing cards, talking away, making fun of each other (this got rather heated sometimes, especially between cousins of roughly the same age- being one of the youngest cousins, I got the advantage of not having to take sides, but could express my love and support to both parties equally, without pressure), eating mangoes, playing cricket, watching movies in theatres with fans, and in ridiculously large numbers, eating lunch/ dinner in batches, and rounding up near the tiny black-and-white TV at around 10p.m., post-dinner, to watch something that would be of interest to persons of various age groups, ranging from my nana to my younger brother.

And I was reminded of the tiny bathroom, and the lengthy bathing ritual we went through every day. First, the motor for the water had to be turned on in the morning, after which all the elder people in the household went for their baths, usually in order of seniority. Thereafter, it was our turn. And there would be massive fights, chit-picking, philosophical debates, coin-tossing, and many other such turn-deciding events. Despite this process of determining the order of the bathing line, there were some cheaters and some line-cutters, who would jump in, and spend the rest of the day appeasing the person who they had cut ahead of (memorably, I remember a cousin of mine cutting ahead of another, and after he went in, she sang after him 'Na jaana mere badshaah, ek hi waade ke liye, ek hi waada tod kar..', in response to which he sang 'Main waapas aaunga.. ek hi waade ke liye, ek hi waada tod kar'. It's funny this has stayed with me, because my family is quite filmy and musical at times, and this wasn't some incredibly well-suited song to the situation. But I was about 6 or 7, and found it really impressive that he knew the lines that followed the two lines she sang, or something like that). And after this entire drama, one's bath had to be lightening quick, because someone was standing outside the bathroom door, waiting with towel in hand, to go in. 

And in so much discord, in a situation with such limited resources (yes, the water ran out once in a while, sometimes mid-bath), there was such harmony. Things moved about slowly but pleasantly. It was taken for granted that the bathing ritual would start from 9 in the morning, and continue till after 2 in the afternoon. And the funny bit was, noone complained. Everyone took great pleasure in the bathing-line-determining process, the chit-chat that happened while we stood waiting for our turn. Noone was in a hurry, noone complained about there being only one bath room.

In all of these lovely memories of some of the best times of the best times (childhood) of my life, the smell of Sunsilk Black shampoo distinctly stands out. Of all the virtues that Sunsilk shampoos of different colours could provide you, my cousins seemed to value 'Shine' the most (which was Sunsilk Black's promise). And I remember there being one bottle of Sunsilk Black being kept on the window-sill of the bathroom religiously, every single day, in every single vacation when I was there. And everyone used Sunsilk Black, and on Sundays especially, everyone's hair smelled of Sunsilk Black. 

Both my maternal grandparents passed away in the 1990s. My nani's house has now been sold to strangers. I haven't gone there in over 5 years. I haven't met all my cousins at the same time since 1997. I haven't gone to Patna for a summer holiday with my entire family in over 8 years. 

Yet, when I saw the bottle in my bathroom today, I couldn't help but use it immediately, and inhale deeply to take in the smell completely. And relive my entire summer holiday in those few seconds.


Anonymous said...

I came across your blog while googling my name. Yes, I am Bhavya as well. The smell of sunsilk, in our case it was pink and yellow, is still in my fact, I remember there was a sunsilk which was almost light almondish in color. My mother used to shampoo my hair with that and it used to always hurt my eyes...I have not seen my family for two and half years now, and I don't know when I will see them again...I live so so far that even the smell of sunsilk cannot reach me...

Bhavya said...

:( You're in phoren country?
Nice to know there are more (female) Bhavya's out there, though :D

BlueRoses said...

I wish I was closer to my cousins.

Divya Suresh said...

Yaay HUL brand!