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That which we call a rose……….

February 6, 2009
We say a guy has got head for numbers or she has got an eye for details or that she has an ear for music, a heart of gold, a green thumb. But, what about the nose? Is there any phrase extolling the virtues of the nose? Other than the derogatory like ‘to smell a rat’.’ don’t be a nosey parker’, or to poke your nose into someone’s affairs’, I can’t think of any. Is this the respect we accord to an organ where life begins and ends? Shouldn’t we at least be saying he has got a nose for life? According to philosopher Blaise Pascal “Cleopatra’s nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed.” Such is the importance of the nose.

Why am I whining about the nose so much? Because I know its importance than anybody else…. well, than most people. I have conditions of the nose which when listed would look like the syllabus of those doing DLO (Diploma in Laryngo Otorhinology) to become your neighbourhood ENT doctor. Actually he should be called TEN doctor because laryngo stands for throat, oto the ear and rhino for nose. The study of these organs has advanced so much today, that you have a specialist each for the left nostril, right nostril, left ear, right ear, upper throat and lower throat.

Coming back to my afflictions, I have a deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, chronic allergic rhinitis and anosmia (simply put ‘the inability to smell’- the handiwork of the polyps). The septum which separates the nostrils is deviated to the left thereby narrowing the left nostril. There are polyps on my right nostril which sometime enlarge to narrow it or close it completely. There are times when my nose strikes work; only god knows who instigates it. The result is the nose gets blocked or runs like a leaky tap or alternates between the two. When this happens I have to put into service my back-up breather, my mouth. My attempts to find a pattern or a frequency or sequence have been unsuccessful so far. It can happen during any part of the day or night and when it happens, I start going around gobbling up air and end up resembling a gold fish.

With your permission let me take small detour to take you through the basics of anatomy of the nose, for better understanding.Gerard Tortora’s ‘Principles of Anatomy and Physiology’ ( a book I suggest you go through even if you are not a medical student.Written in a pedagoogic style, it will make you 1.admire yourself as an objet d’art 2. Stop abusing your body 3. Marvel at the creator, whatever you want to call him for the exquiste piece of engineering that you are that will put the best super-computers to shame. For me the theory of evolution is akin to saying ‘there was a small screw initially and over the years it evolved into a computer’) says the primary function of the nose are
– Warming, moistening and filtering air
– Modifying speech vibrations
– Olfaction

Warming, moistening and filtering: The nose acts as an air conditioner to make the air we breathe in, combatible to the body and vice versa. In the absence of this mechanism the air gets warmed and moistened by drawing out the saliva and making the mouth dry. It is worse at night as we do not get a chance to replenish the lost water. When I wake up in the moring, the mouth is very dry, the lips are chapped as if worked on by a passionate lover.As the day progresses the mouth is overworked while talking and breathing at the same time. When this is done, air gets into the food pipe to get trapped in the stomach and sooner than later it tries to escape either up the chute or down the drain pipes at the most unexpected time . The going gets tough during business luncheons, where I have to eat, talk and breathe together. You can use all of your imagination and yet will not be able to empathize with what I go through.

Modifying speech vibrations: Speech is the most difficult thing during this period. To understand what I speak is even more difficult. Sample this; it is between ME and room service.

Room service (RS): Good evening I am Beena from room service, how may I help you?
Me: Good evening I am calling from 1229 (only it sounded like ‘hood heven hi ham hallin hum hun who who hine’).
RS: Yes sir.
Me: I would like to have one ‘Naan and one portion of Aloo Mutter.
RS: Yes sir, one Nasigoreng. Is that all. Would you like anything to drink?
Me: No, no, no…… One aloo mutter and one Naan.
RS: Oh you want to have mutton biriyani. Small portion or large?
Me: Nooooo…….. I would like to have One Naan and aloo mutter.
RS: I got it Noodles and an omelette.

I don’t know what kind of combination that is, but I guess she would have seen a lot of crazy customers with even crazier tastes. I didn’t have the strength to carry on and said okay. Beena signed off saying that she was happy to have had the opportunity to serve me. I was not happy even though I had made someone happy. (I hope Beena was not lying) I had lost more energy than what the food was going to put back. I would have been better off, not ordering at all in the first place. It is a good thing that they can monitor from where the call had emanated or they would have had to go around all the rooms searching for a guy with a funny accent and I would have had to wait patiently till he/she finds me.

Olfaction:Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.” said Helen Keller. Unfortunately for me it can’t transport me anywhere. I am oblivious to everything from the acrid smell of petrol to the whiff of perfume as a girl walks past, but looking at the grimaces of people walking past as if they have stepped on excrement makes me feel that I am better off with this defect in this great city of Chennai which has degenerated into a big composite yard. Of course I make exaggerated gestures of covering my nose and mouth while passing a garbage dump. I don’t want people to think I am abnormal. It is a like watching a foreign language movie in a theater. You have to laugh when the others laugh or the guy sitting next to you will think there is something funny going on other than on the screen.

I can hear you asking me why am I walking around with all these probems without getting treated. I have tried everything from allopathy to the most obscure therapies to no avail. It is not the fault of the system of medicine but my own. I tend to forget to take the doses properly or complete the course. At home, my wife reminds me, but on tour, it is difficult as time becomes a seamless dimension. I did try to convince my company to let my wife travel with me on business tours, but they refused. Obviously I am not THAT indispensable. I am into homeopathy now. The doses are simple 2 pills when you wake up in the morning and 2 pills when you go to sleep. It can’t get simpler than this. And I think it is working.
Till then you can call the rose by any other it will smell the same to me.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    February 12, 2009 18:57

    It is very obvious how much time you have at your disposal. Analysing Nose! Recommending changing the term ENT to TEN. May be you can start writing dialogues for Kamal Hassan’s films.

  2. PRG permalink
    February 12, 2009 19:50

    Thanks for dropping by.Would be happy if you’d show your face for some analysis.

  3. shail permalink
    February 14, 2009 00:24

    I was going to suggest homeopathy to you. Sigh, I have had minor versions of similar problems for different reasons. So I know how it feels. Your blog has everything, humor, pathos and information! 😛And read about what else happened to my poor nose here:

  4. PRG permalink
    February 16, 2009 09:14

    Thanks Shail. I too sometimes feel like boxing my wife’s nose,but she always walks with the nose up in the air. A difficult angle


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