accommodating Self

 

Yesterday afternoon, a friend took me to a little nooky cafe, tucked inside an industrial estate. A former hardware shop, the entrance decorated with eclectic vintage clutter served as a thematic introduction to the atmosphere within. As soon as we pushed open the creaky door, I felt a draft of musty, humid, cool air blow directly into my face, then wrap around me like a nebulous mouldy snake. My skin tingled, as my olfactory senses picked up the various miasmic odours emanating from each visually charming piece of history on display.

The waiter ushered us towards the back. Slipping within a split second into a bubble of wordlessness, I followed obediently, semi-somnambulant, my sensory system already engaged in a (routine) contrapuntal wrestling match with the onslaught of smells, sights, and sounds. As we were about to sit down at the allocated table, speech suddenly returned, and words fell out of my mouth like marbles, tumbling down and bouncing sharply against the concrete floor.

“I don’t want to sit here, it smells funny. I don’t like the smell here.”

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back to bacon

So, back in Sydney. No lovely sister to take care of all my gastronomic needs. And the food conundrum revives. After one very bad decision to have Indian takeaway dinner – chicken tikka and naan – which resulted in the return of runny tummy, I ordered Chinese takeaway of sweet and sour pork with fried rice. It lasted 3 meals. But I got tired of eating the same thing. Besides, Chinese takeaway tends to deteriorate with time. The zing and zap just doesn’t keep. Continue reading

this morning

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Fish & Chips Da Capo

This morning. Today. A slowly unfolding, passing, flowing ‘now’… I am inside… Lucy is inside… We are both inside… Here…

They say the mark of a really good meal is in its rehashing afterwards. Well, I reheated yesterday’s fish and chips in a pan for a hearty late breakfast half an hour ago. In some ways, it seemed to taste even better than before. This AirBnB kitchen has no toaster ovenette – and I didn’t want to heat up an entire giant oven just for my leftovers – so, I used a frying pan, a dash of virgin olive oil, on low heat. The batter become crispier and the chips crunchier. The salad was fresh enough to not taste soggy-faded too. Thank you, dear Massimo!  Continue reading

paper wrap

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Warm Vanilla Hound

An old Chinese Cantonese saying: “Paper cannot wrap fire.” 紙包不到火

Olfactory guerilla warfare in an AirBnB bed. Since Friday evening.

After the sensory hellhole in Posh Bay, almost every other place seems refreshingly clean. Well, even if not sparkling, nevertheless still a relief in comparison. The feeling carries on reverberating. I arrived on Friday afternoon. A lovely little flat. Neat and decent kitchen. Somewhat spartan living room, scruffy old bathroom with yellowy-orangey chipped tiles, and stained carpet in my bedroom – but at least not choking with debris and copious layers of dust bunnies.

My hosts are pleasant, and best of all, they love dogs, so Lucy is welcome here. This immediately makes me super grateful, after the intensity of dog-hatred experienced here.

All is well. Or so it may seem. Continue reading

bump!

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Meltdown

It’s Wednesday. Midweek. Lucy and I hit a few bumps along the road today.

This morning, as if she somehow had an inkling of what lay ahead, Lucy was less happy than usual to get out of bed for her early morning breakfast. During our little walk around the block, she was sniffing around a familiar patch of grass, when she stopped, walked very deliberately to the gate leading to a gallery where I had held my first exhibition, and stood at the gate. She resolutely refused to move from that position, even turning away from her favourite lamb puff treat when I tried to persuade her. “It’s locked, honey, we can’t go in from here.” She usually understands this, and will follow me thereafter, but Lucy stood frozen to the spot, as if in a mini, silent meltdown. Her nose began to drip, another sign of distress. I checked her all over to make sure she hadn’t suffered any injury, or stepped on glass shards etc. All ok. Something must have triggered in her mind. A sensory issue? An olfactory memory? She seemed insistent on going inside via that particular gate. Or perhaps she was just reacting to the big change of being back with me after 2 months at ‘holiday camp’ with my lovely friends Jan and Pete, and their five dogs?  Continue reading

olfactory travel

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Stand clear of the green arrow!

My first time in the MRT train in Singapore. An eye-opener. An ear widener. An eye-stabbing, energy sapping exercise. Most of all, a full-on olfactory incursion.

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Begin at the beginning…

Having never used the system before, I set forth for my 4pm appointment in the west, from the central area where I live, at 2.55pm. My only experience with the underground system were in Hong Kong and London. The trains in Hong Kong run at quite a speed. Based on this, I felt an hour would be sufficient to cover the distance. I was wrong. Continue reading

liquid calm

At last. After the crash, finally fever-free. Regaining strength. Time for some water therapy. Another clement space. A place of solace, where many thoughts were scribbled and visual images captured.

I love the water. Swimming was the only physical activity I was able to really enjoy since childhood. Enveloped in soothing, calming liquid silk. A sonic world unlike any other. Weightless, yet tangible, not spinning in vertiginous chaos, but a calm, gentle buoyancy.

Slide in slowly, the joints still stiff from two weeks of inflammation and malfunction. Engulfed in tranquil gratitude. Light years away from the horror of the past year… Has it really been a year already?

The jacuzzi feature makes delightful bubbles.

tea for two

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HK Street Bites

Just the two of us. It’s been some time. My baby sister and me. A hot, humid tropical Friday. A mini outing. Nothing fancy. Hopped onto the shuttle bus to the nearby shopping mall. Popped into the pharmacy for my panadol. And then Tea for Two.

I originally wanted local Singaporean fare at Han’s Cafe, but when we got there, it was teeming with the lunch-time crowd. The sound of clattering cutlery, trays and buzzing chattering voices, the human bodies shuffling in and out, and the strong smells of cheap perfume, cooked food and sweaty bodies created sensory havoc.

My sister is ever so resourceful: she knows where to go and when. She led me upstairs to this little nook, where they sell Hong Kong style mini-bites and desserts. Phew! Continue reading

implosion

They say it sometimes takes awhile for trauma sufferers to recount a particularly confronting event. In the grand cosmic struggle of life, perhaps this tiny little bubble of hideous dread may not measure up against the more solemn travails. However, it was a kind of ‘home-coming’ that needed time and space to communicate in intelligible wordedness. Here, it’s worth a feeble attempt anyway.

Welcome back to Sensory Perdition. New and improved version… Yes, indeed, a worse state than before. This is the looming shadow of fear. Five lovely days away, cocooned inside tranquil cleanliness, yet unable to erase the horror, the anticipation of sensory agony, awaiting upon return to reality. Continue reading

catch up

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Yum Cha for Two?

Friends and friendships are important. Contrary to popular misconception, autistic persons do not hide inside our own worlds as some kind of stubborn, deliberate contrariness, antagonsing the ‘normal’ world with our reluctance to connect. Autists merely have different connectivity pathways, and thresholds for interactivity modes that are not intrinsically native to our distinct functionality. Continue reading