Nose - the most ignored sensory organ | Sunday Observer

Nose - the most ignored sensory organ

“If the nose of Cleopatra had been shorter, the whole face of the earth would have been changed.” These were the words of Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662). But some of us take the nose for granted.

Anatomically, the nose is the part of the face that sticks out above the mouth, through which you breathe and smell. People have small, large, and pointed noses. When you have a sore throat you might also have a runny nose. People blow their noses on their handkerchiefs. Private bus drivers who drive recklessly get up your nose. Some people have a nose for doing things without making a fuss. They are also good at finding things necessary for the task. When you keep your nose clean, you avoid getting into unnecessary trouble. In workplaces some of your colleagues cannot keep their noses out of other people’s business.

If you want to pass an examination with flying colours, you have to keep your nose to the grindstone. Sometimes, even your best friend may walk past you with his nose in the air when he gets a sudden promotion. When I was a student I used to keep my nose always in books. It helped me to pass many examinations. One day, a friend advised me to stop poking my nose into his personal life. I learnt a bitter lesson. My nose was really put out of joint when a junior colleague was promoted above me. On my way home a pickpocket tried to pick my purse right under my nose.

‘Nose job’

One day, I spent many hours looking for a particular book although it was right under my nose. I blamed myself for my stupidity. Many Bollywood actresses are not happy with the shape of their noses. So they have a “nose job” or cosmetic surgery. One day, I saw a horse with a nose bag hung around its head. Later, I found that it was meant for holding food. When a country is prospering, the prices of consumer goods nosedive. Sometimes, you are advised to follow your nose when you do not have any guidelines or rules to perform a certain piece of job. In a competition if one side is given a bloody nose, it is defeated in a way that does not cause damage but makes it look foolish or inferior. Some politicians try to lead the people by the nose when they know that the masses are generally asses! Once elected, they look down their noses at the voters as if they are strangers. These days we have to pay through the nose to buy essentials. Before you thumb your nose at powerful people, think twice because your gesture will be interpreted as disrespect.

The above facts show that the nose is an important sensory organ. Laura Elizabeth Richards’ tiny verse suggests that some of us may regret having only one nose.

“Baby said

When she smelt the rose,

‘Oh! What a pity

I’ve only one nose!”

Edmond Rostand (1868-1918) said,

“A great nose indicates a great man –

Genial, courteous, intellectual,

Virile, courageous.”

I do not know what he meant by “great nose.” “Great” is not synonymous with “big.” Aristotle had a pug nose, but he was a great philosopher.

Sense of smell

By using your nose you smell flowers. Sometimes the smell can be unpleasant. Dogs, more than humans, have a very good sense of smell. The word “smell” is used with different adjectives. For instance, you get a strong smell when you burn plastic or rubber. But the smell of certain perfumes can be very faint. The smell of disinfectant is usually overpowering. When you walk into a coffee shop, you get a pleasant or lovely smell. When you pass a meat stall, the smell is really horrible. At times you smell a smell. A trained policeman can detect a faint smell of blood in a crime scene.

A smell is something you recognize by breathing in the air through your nose. We often get the sweet smell of roses or jasmines. Sometimes, you catch a whiff of perfume when a woman passes by, at a wedding. The rose has a beautiful scent. Cats and dogs use their scent to mark their territory. The words “fragrance” or “perfume” are more formal than “scent”. Orange blossoms have a sweet perfume and mangoes have their special fragrance. We use the word “aroma” to indicate the pleasant smell of coffee. On the other hand, “odour” is an unpleasant smell. The body odour of some people can be nauseating. “Stink” or “stench” is a very strong unpleasant smell. Some public toilets give off a terrible stench.

The words “nose” and “smell” have surreptitiously crept into English idioms. So, nosy Parker is someone who is too interested in finding out about other people’s affairs. Whether you have a small or a big nose, it is useful for breathing in and out. By using the nose, we smell different things at different times. If you smell a rat, you begin to suspect trickery or deception. You smell blood when you discern weakness or vulnerability in an opponent. Sometimes you smell of the lamp when you show signs of laborious study and effort. The reference is to an oil-lamp. According to Plutarch, criticism was once made of the works of Demosthenes: “His impromptus smell of the lamp,” meaning that his speeches were written rather than spoken orations. When an American says he smells the roses, he means that he enjoys or appreciates what is often ignored. However, we smell roses for sheer pleasure!

Taste and smell

Our senses of taste and smell are inextricably linked. If you smell something savoury, your mouth begins to water. Similarly, if you smell a rotten egg, you get a bad taste in your mouth. Most of us know there are many things to be smelt and tasted in everyday life. In fact, we live in a world of sensations. It is amazingly therapeutic to feel good smells such as roses, freshly-baked bread or roasted coffee beans. You must be thankful to your nose because smell is the most evocative of senses which change your mood and recall forgotten memories. Yet, it is also the most ignored sensory organ.

According to psychologists, awakening to the power of taste and smell can greatly enhance your life. They say, you should practise conscious smelling.

To start with, collect some strong smelling objects such as flowers, herbs and even toilet soap. Close your eyes and pick up one item at a time and slowly absorb its fragrance. You should also try to make a meal on the basis of smell. Include a succession of dishes ranging from pungent to rich and inhale the smell of each dish before eating.

The importance of the nose in breathing is evidently clear. The way you breathe reflects the way you live. Breathe well and your health and quality of life will be immeasurably enhanced. If you breathe poorly, your vitality and your capacity for feeling will be impoverished. Therefore, look after your nose like all the other sensory organs.

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