NEW YORK, NY – Parul Shah, who recently emigrated to America from Mumbai, has discovered that she feels most relaxed and comfortable when riding in certain taxi cabs. Ms. Shah, an ethnobotanist, has found the move to be exhilarating and challenging, much more than she though it would be. But riding in a taxi cab with an Indian driver with a strong body odor takes her right back to Mumbai.
“You can’t have everything be unknown and exciting all the time,” said Ms. Shah. “You really need time to relax without thinking too much. Everything here is just go go go all day, every day. I really thought my yoga and meditation would help but it’s been very hard to block out the strange smells and sounds. And since I haven’t made close friends yet it’s been rather lonely. But when I take a cab with a good desi driver who doesn’t shower too much, I can close my eyes and feel like I am back in the arms of the motherland.”
When pressed further on what she liked about the body odor, Ms. Shah considered deeply before responding. “It’s a combination of sweat and cumin. But I’m not sure if it’s the sweat hitting the spices in his shirt or what. And there’s hints of dhaniya and Old Spice.”
Ms. Shah noted that this was an unexpected surprise but it totally makes sense. “In India, all the taxiwalas smell the same. When I was little and no taxi had air conditioning it was even stronger. Most of the taxiwalas take naps in their cars too. But it seemed like none of the adults ever noticed. One of my aunties actually seemed to enjoy it quite a bit, now that I think about it. She caused quite a scandal by marrying a taxiwala who was well below her caste. But she seems to be the happiest person in our family now.”