Nury Vittachi

Used my wife's lemon-herb-mint shampoo, and now my head smells like a slow-roasted leg of lamb and everyone in the office is complaining that they feel hungry.

So I turn to mail from readers and find several have forwarded me a story in which a bus traveller was arrested after passengers complained about his smelly feet

At last! As a frequent traveller, this columnist has long been baffled as to why Being Stinky In Public is not seen as a medium-to-high grade criminal offence, somewhere between Manslaughter and Listening to Justin Bieber in Public.

I once shared a taxi with a driver so smelly that I had to lean my head out of the window for breathable fresh air -- and that was in Beijing, where the air is brown and chewy.

But further research revealed the sad truth that stinkiness has not been formally criminalised in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, where the smelly-feet-on-a-bus incident took place recently. The man was arrested for "causing public nuisance" by arguing with the other passengers.

People don't like being told their feet smell. "There was a case last year in Omaha where a man thrown out of a car because of his foot odour picked up a pipe and smashed the back windscreen," said one of the US-watchers among my colleagues. A Europe correspondent said that in Berlin last year, two men were arrested for fighting in a train after one of them complained about the other's smelly feet.

I called a lawyer to ask if smelling bad was illegal anywhere in the world. "Not really, except for token efforts," he said. "A US town made it illegal to have body odour in parks and libraries, but people realised it was really just an attempt to get rid of homeless people. In Italy earlier this year, a court in Rome ruled that cooking smelly food was a criminal offence if it annoyed your neighbour."

But having smelly feet while travelling is not a crime -- which is bad news for travellers with delicate noses.

Now this is where the Japanese come to our rescue. They just announced the invention of a robot dog called Hana-chan who sniffs your feet and faints if they smell bad. Hana-chan should be placed at aircraft gates. If the dog faints, you don't get on the plane. Simple.

But a colleague spotted a flaw in this plan. What if you nip into a duty free shop at the airport for a free burst of perfume? Your smell-level will go up and Hana-chan will faint.

The only people whom the dog will allow to fly will be Canadians. In that country, many organisations have no-perfume policies, and even wearing nice-smelling hair gel can get you sent home if you work in a school or a hospital. The policy was introduced to help people who feel "assaulted" by perfumes.

Dear Canadians, if you want to feel assaulted by a smell, come to Asia. I have the business card of a Beijing taxi driver who will make you want to swim in a lake of Chanel No. 5.

Oops. I just scratched my head and now I feel hungry.

(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and suggestions via his Facebook page)