Friday, April 5, 2013

A sense we can't post on Facebook

When you come to a new place, then there is a lot to digest new impressions. In the age of Facebook and Instagram photos and short texts we invite high for each of our friends (and enemies) know how beautiful it is here. But that's only half the truth. The sense that we use in new places most is the sense of smell. With the eyes we perceive mainly movements, with the ears we check the environment we can't see, but with the nose but we scan for danger.

 When I came to Laos, I walked every morning around our village. It was not a nice experience for the nose. Almost every house had a fire and burned the garbage that had just swept along. Then there were barbecue stands, which was mostly fueled with wood soaked in kerosene. Passing by an undeveloped plot of land usually meant walking along a garbage dump.

 Bangkok is a already completely different experience. For one thing, the food street stalls smell better. It is not just grilled chicken or other grilled meat. Actually, passing by food stands in Bangkok is one of the best olfactory experiences ever. And then there is this mix of nature, in our compound, the fragrance of flowers of frangipani and jasmine and other flowers.

 The house where we live smells like a new house, a bit like IKEA. The little Minimart has its own smell of dried fish, which is sold at the door. The laundry smells of the very own fragrance that is added to the washed clothes - whether or not the customer wants it. Somewhere it stinks from the sewer and the wastewater in Bangkok smells different than in Laos or Vietnam.

 I know that Google made a nice Aprils Fool joke with Google Nose. In some way, they are right: without our nose, we can't smell (and taste as well). That means, we can't experience the world around us as it is. Sometimes, we should close our eyes and walk around by just using our nose as a guidance.