The Smell of Curry


The Smell of Curry

Would that sentiment were only
positive and never lonely––
but all emotions of the world
in sentiment are tightly curled.
Every memory we cherish
is doubly edged with “live” and “perish.”
In every city, country, land––
bad and good go hand in hand.

The blend of cardamom and lentil
always makes me sentimental.
Odors of turmeric and its ilk,
garam masala and coco milk.
Curry spices being roasted,
degree of peppers being boasted,
chickpeas, carrots, potatoes, rice––
stirring in each thing that’s nice.

What do I think of when I smell
and taste that it is going well?
Bombay and wedding saris thin
sliding down my youthful skin.
Visions of a midnight ride
to cages with young girls inside
sold by their parents and then resold
nightly for a bit of gold.

Traffic, sitar music, fingers
scooping curry––all this lingers.
The beauty of that winsome song
that showed me where the world’s gone wrong.
His action, swift, unthinking, curt
of small coins cast into the dirt
to deflect those who beg and bleat,
surrounding us in every street.

Palaces and then the clash
of children in a world of trash,
the refuse of this giant city
the world they lived in—what a pity.
Back when traveling was new,
experiences were so few
that India changed my life forever.
So, will I forget it?  Never.

Since it was a journey that changed my life forever–both the physical journey through the streets of Bombay as well as that journey of the senses I go though every time I cook or taste a curry, I’m rerunning this poem written two years ago for the dVerse Poets’ Pub prompt of “Journeys.”

25 thoughts on “The Smell of Curry

    1. lifelessons Post author

      I was trying to figure out where it was taken. The plates looked so familiar. Finally I recalled that those are the plates in the house I rent every year for two months at the beach and that that was a curry meal I’d cooked for friends! Mind slipping, I fear!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Glenn Buttkus

    What a marvelous juxtaposition of sensual and visual cues. The contrasts in India, the caste system, the rich colors, bodies floating in the Ganges–what a rich palette for poetry

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gina

    your journey through India and her people and food took me on a journey through life’s hardships and when humanity fails to be brave, we feel so helpless in the huge scheme of life. i feel blessed in a way to read this poem, few journeys can impact us like ones we take through a foreign land.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. lifelessons Post author

      I absolutely agree, Gina. I wish that trip for all young people so they may learn that all people in all countries are the same–displaying the same contrasts of good and evil. Also, that wisdom doesn’t necessarily come from a college education. Nothing replaces experiencing different cultures and mores.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gina

        so very true and really good advice. i have encouraged all my kids go on mission trips, foreign and local, it has really opened their eyes to what goes on out of their comfortable bubble. thank you so much for your writing

        Liked by 1 person

  3. sarahsouthwest

    You’ve taken me right back to India, and that amazing swing in an instant from the sublime to the horrific. Every sense overwhelmed in every possible way. Your rhyme and meter is so skilfully done, it runs so smoothly. Really enjoyed this.


    1. lifelessons Post author

      Thanks, Sarah. I was in India at the age of 20 and actually had a nervous breakdown afterwards. I just couldn’t face the contrasts I saw there. Luckily, there were two older women in my group who got me through it. It was, however, truly life-changing.



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