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roommate problem!!

vivian_jvivian_j 8 replies3 threads New Member
edited February 2006 in College Life
My roommate is from India, and she's a great girl - very kind, sociable, and easygoing. She always keeps her side of the room neat and we've never had any of the typical roommate issues... However, I have noticed that our room tends to smell, and that the odd, musky odor seems to be coming from her clothes, and her person. She showers most every day and keeps herself well groomed... I have no idea if she uses deodorant or not... This is, obviously, a very sensitive issue and I am extremely hesitant to bring it up with her, because I really do like her a lot.

I try to compensate for the odor by opening the window often and letting a draft of fresh air flow through the room. This is problematic , though, because it gets rather cold, and it only temporarily makes the room smell better. Right now, she's gone home for nearly three weeks following her exam, and I'm still here, studying for the rest of mine. I bought an air freshener which has helped considerably, but her clothes cupboard (full of clothes) still reeks and every time I walk near it I can smell the odor stronger than ever. This is not only a problem for me, but also our other friends, who undoubtedly notice as well. I hate being embarrassed about having other people in the room. I don't think I can talk to my roommate about it, but I don't know what else to do! The thought even entered my head today of taking her clothes out of her cupboard and washing every last one of them...even wiping down the cupboard itself... I know, bad things to be thinking! She might be mad if I touched her personal belongings, and she'd definitely want to know WHY... but I'm getting desperate! What should I do? Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated :)
edited February 2006
30 replies
Post edited by vivian_j on
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Replies to: roommate problem!!

  • scandal-lessscandal-less 383 replies16 threads Member
    hey vivian, a teacher once told me that its the skin pigmentation of the indians that make them smell as such. i question the veracity of the aforementioned statement, but who knows..it might be true.

    also, indians tend to use things like zamzamoil in their hair and stuff. if you really cant take it, ask for a room transfer...

    i wouldn recommend bringing it up cus its really quite a sensitive issue.
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  • collegegirl5166collegegirl5166 59 replies3 threads Junior Member
    talk to your ra and she what she/he says. they're good for advice!
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  • elizabeth22elizabeth22 1317 replies36 threads Senior Member
    Scandal-less, that can't possibly be true. And you really shouldn't make such unflattering generalizations.

    My first thought was whether she uses the scent patchouli as a perfume, essential oil, etc. Part of the population likes it, the other part hates it. Personally, I think it smells like BO. It's described as "pungent, powerful, mossy, and musty" by the vendors....and the fact that that's the most positive description they could give it ought to give you a clue :-P. If she keeps her beauty products out in the open, take a look and see if she uses it- and if she does, maybe you could let her know that you're very sensitive to some scents. Telling her her perfume smells has got to be less embarrassing than telling her that she smells.

    If it's not something she's putting on, then maybe your RA would have an idea.
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  • demerdardemerdar 41 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Simple. Indian food. The spices they use in their food secretes from the skin as an odor.
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  • gsp_silicon_valleygsp_silicon_valley 1512 replies30 threads Senior Member
    Can any Desi Indians on CC suggest to Vivian how to communicate with her roomie?

    Vivian, have you noticed if your roomie washes her clothes regularly? Otherwise, just have a sensitive but candid conversation with her...

    ...you're a great roommate - very kind, sociable, and easygoing. You always keep your side of the room neat and we never have any of the typical roommate issues. However, I do notice an odor that seems to be coming from your side of the room, and it is uncomfortable for me.

    Can you help me understand it and how we can resolve this issue?

    Are there any issues regarding me that we need to address?
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  • RandomCollegeGirlRandomCollegeGirl 18 replies6 threads New Member
    Just talk to her. I've told my roomies when I'm annoyed with them. They've told me. And we love each other very much.
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  • scandal-lessscandal-less 383 replies16 threads Member
    <strong>Personally, I think it smells like BO.</strong>

    Scandal-less, that can't possibly be true. And you really shouldn't make such
    unflattering generalizations.

    which part of my post was an unflattering generalization? i never said anything that was remotely derogatory, or stereotypically so.
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  • gsp_silicon_valleygsp_silicon_valley 1512 replies30 threads Senior Member
    Regardless of truth or fiction, others on CC can benefit from the advice provided in this and other threads. This is the value of CollegeConfidential.
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  • BModBMod 206 replies16 threads Junior Member
    uhhh... you become as smelly as her. You think of the rest.
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  • jjjamesjjjames 51 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I'll trade you roommates anyday!

    because roommates suck
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  • RKATCRKATC 175 replies51 threads Junior Member
    I personally would feel awkward bringing it up, as I'm sure most people would. I hate my roommate and still refuse to bring things up. With two people living in a small room with dirty laundary and trash piling up, dorm rooms are bound to smell. If I were you, I would have a friend come in the room when you and your roommate are in there and make a comment about the smell, or you can yourself. Mention it in a tone that doesn't sound like your making an accusation, but confused by a smell. If nothing else, it might get the ball rolling in a casual way. If you don't want to deal with it at all, switch rooms.
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  • ZoomerZoomer 3 replies0 threads New Member
    Indians traditionally use the oil when (after) bathing. It is part of their religion.

    Unless of course, she or her parents happens to be a convert.

    From your description of her, you should just bring it up in a sensitive manner. Communication is key. I understand that the smell can be uncomfortable, I'm not too good with it myself.
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  • XCchick44XCchick44 973 replies36 threads Senior Member
    does she cook or eat indian food in there?
    I have an Indian friend so i know what scent your talking about.
    If you see her eating the food or w/e just say "Hey your food is giving off an unpleasent odor, could you eat somewhere else?" Maybe in a nicer manner though
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  • SlorgSlorg 1970 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Just tell her she stinks. I appreciate it when people tell me that.

    (not because it's a compliment but because they let me know rather than just trying to avoid me or wash my clothes and cupboard :))
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  • evil_asian_dictatorevil_asian_dictator 2167 replies139 threads- Senior Member
    I am a desi doI know that it's because of the spices in Indian food she eats...um my best advice would be to use a holiday as an excuse to buy her a large quantity of a nice perfume that you adore. Then, cleverly make her promise to use the perfume daily for at least a couple of times by using the excuse that you spent a lot of tiem and effort looking for it and would therefore would be offended if she didn't at least try it for some time. Finally, over the span of these few weeks, comment on how "amazing" she smells regularly since I have an *odd* feeling that other students in your college will be telling her the exact same thing hehe.:)

    If you don't want to deceive her in this manner, then just be patient and I'm sure you'll begin to cope with the smell over time. The whole Indian "smell" thing was a major grievance for the white people in my school during middle school, but as the years passed a majority of them have gotten used to it since it became so common!!!;)

    Good luck.
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  • CC2UCCC2UC 107 replies25 threads Junior Member
    steal her spices
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  • HavaldaarHavaldaar 661 replies14 threads Member
    "Indians traditionally use the oil when (after) bathing. It is part of their religion."

    Hahahaha, what a load of crap. That's like saying white people have to be promiscous,it's a part of their culture. Some people may be putting oil for various reasons,but its not like all of us put oil.

    It could be her food, but I don't see how it can cling to her clothes.

    Just be straightforward and tell her that she smells strange. She'll be a bit hurt, but its better coming from someone she knows than someone she doesn't.
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  • vivian_jvivian_j 8 replies3 threads New Member
    thanks for the ideas, everyone. I can rule out a few things, though: she doesn't ever cook, and is Catholic (so I don't think she uses oils for religious purposes). The clothes cupboard that smells so awful is, I realized, full of sweaters and sweatshirts that I do not think she washes. I mean, she washes her underwear and shirts and stuff but I think she just hangs up the pullovers after wearing them, which is fine for awhile but they have to be cleaned sometime! The odor just sticks to them.

    I have commented before in a non-threatening or specific way that the room seems to smell (I had to say something to justify opening the window so much!) and a couple of our friends have also commented that it smells, though not in her presence. One of my friends has spoken with me at length because she realizes the true cause of the smell, so I can only hope others realize as well. I suspect my roommate may know her clothes smell because she is constantly leaving the cupboard door open, perhaps to air out the clothes. This only makes the room smell worse. I will probably suggest she wash them, but in an indirect way - perhaps by offering to help her wash a load of pullovers (she has a LOT of them) when I wash mine. I also like the perfume idea. It's hard even now with her gone and me here in the room alone, because every time I walk near the cupboard I can smell it, and for the past week I've been airing out the room, and using an air freshener. I'd like to burn some sort of scented candle, but our fire alarms would definitely go off...
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  • lkf725lkf725 4597 replies184 threads Senior Member
    Why don't you buy yourself some closet air fresheners, and just happen to get some for your roomie too? I like the laundry idea; maybe you could just invite her to go along when you do yours.

    If all else fails, maybe you could just tell her. It's kind of like telling someone that their zipper is open or they have food in their teeth. It's a little embarassing, but they'll be grateful to you.
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  • gsp_silicon_valleygsp_silicon_valley 1512 replies30 threads Senior Member
    I still don't understand why you can't speak directly to you roommate!

    "Roomie, I am really concerned about the odor coming from your clothes cupboard. Can we resolve this issue together?"

    ...and then you can offer to help her wash clothes and sanitize the cupboard and room. Sanitizing the physical space is expremely important. Also, DO NOT COMBINE YOUR CLOTHES WITH HERS, as they may be lice infected or something.

    I am not trying to make a joke!
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