01 September 2010


As I have previously mentioned here, classes started this week. And so there are plenty of people again on campus.

So the other day, I was in the bus. It was one of those days in which there are plenty of people who want to get in the bus, and so I ended up just standing inside. I could have waited a few more minutes and catch the next bus, but I figured it wasn't worth it.

Anyway, so I was standing, and I had to hold the rails above my head so I won't fall. I was also reading at the same time. And when I turned to the right, unfortunately, there was another person there, holding up his left hand, which exposed his underarm and armpit, and it was emitting a rather serious molecular agent, that I found rather hard to endure.

That was the perfect way to start a morning.

It made me think why some people do not bother with their scents. I've seen it in Europe in the summer, and also here as well, especially with certain ethnic groups. Not that I would want to go to stereotyping people, but there is a high correlation. Anyway, I looked it up. And apparently, smelling good is a relatively new phenomenon.

Back in the days, people were not used to bathing. In ancient Europe, the aristocrats thought that only the poor bathed, and so instead of bathing, they put on so much perfume to hide the scent. Bathing was just an East Asian cultural norm, and in other places, bathing wasn't the most important thing on the planet. There are cultures that would go far and wide to hunt for food, get water, and do other things to survive, so bathing would be the last thing in their list of worries. Perhaps, the concept of bathing was exceptional to the East Asians, especially the Japanese, who even institutionalized bathing, with the common neighborhood bathrooms and spas, and even now, up to the point of having business functions while in hot springs.

So I guess the Eurocentric inclination to smell neutral, if not good, is a relatively new thing. I wonder what made the paradigm change. Standards of cleanliness have changed apparently, but not everyone has followed suit. Some still find it totally acceptable to smell bad in the morning, go to school without even jumping into the shower, and have the ability to blast a putrid stench of body odor to the general public.


However, people are people. To each his own, I guess. Although personally, I still prefer smelling good in the morning.

(I'm Getting Higher, from my Pisac Series)


  1. I'm split on the issue. On one hand, I admit that some people in the subway in Paris really stink. That said, it's a crowded place with no air-con so maybe it is to be expected. On the other side, all of my French friends and myself take a shower everyday and use deo... so I don't think Europeans stink more than other people!

  2. Zhu,

    Oh, I never said that Europeans stink more than other people, all I said was that sometimes, Europe stinks too. Here in Buffalo, there are some people who seem to not be aware that deodorant exists, and somehow, they correlate with a certain ethnic group, which is unfortunate for stereotyping, although I am fully aware that not all people belonging to this ethnic group smell.