crucial assistance

 

 

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Lucy came with me to the Arts & Disability International Conference today. It was a huge blessing to have her with me, well worth the small ‘inconveniences’, like having to take her outside for potty each time we had a break and thus missing out on food and beverage.

When we first arrived, I made the mistake of choosing to sit in a busy area where people were walking or wheeling back and forth, standing around chatting, and even striding over Lucy, who was laying on her mat next to me at my feet. The lights in the rooms were confronting, to say the least. Lucy took it all in with grace and quietude, and she kept a discreet whisker out for me all the time. I began to feel nervous and agitated from the constant noise, movement and frenetic energy buzzing round and round, and Lucy got up to indicate that we should move to a less busy spot. She led me to the far corner on the other side of the room, and we settled down comfortably there, until lunchtime. Continue reading

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syncopation

 

 

Sensory syncopation. Buzzing dissonance. Muted vowels. Overwhelming consonants. All this and more, gyrating – determined and unceasing – in the thrilling, vexing and amazing sensory ecology of Hong Kong.

I haven’t been back in 6 years, not since my Haptic Autistry and Haptic HugShrug exhibitions. It was lovely to be back, on old familiar soil, yet with so much vibrant newness yet to explore.

Three lectures/talks, two public and one private, and a great many old friends to catch up with, kept my days buzzing with activity.

 

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A new adventure awaited in Sham Shui Po – gritty, old, traditional and crammed – where I would stay for the entire trip, in a windowless bedroom above the sensory theatre of wet markets, dim sum stalls, cooked and raw food shops side by side, vegetables and fruit, and … fish. I landed smack in the middle of unfamiliarity. It was a deliberate decision, I wanted to experience somewhere different from my old memories of my life in Hong Kong – and I got what I asked for. Picturesque, and I am glad for my nifty Fujifilm X100T, but the olfactory ambience was confronting, to say the least. The smell of pork – raw, uncooked pork – literally envelopes your entire being, pervading the air all the way up into my dark little AirBnB bedroom. Then there was fish, rotting vegetable, overflowing sewers, and human bodies seething with perspiration wrapped in unwashed clothes – thematic elements weaving in and out of the tapestry, as the basso continuo of pork pounded on and on.

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Elderly lady selling fish and vegetables

One picture carved into my mind, leaving me engulfed in a heavy, thick and excruciating wave of sadness and haplessness, is that of an old lady, bent double, sitting on a small stool, selling fish and assorted vegetables, just in front of the strong smelling butchery at the corner. Her catch differed every day, sometimes there were larger fish, other days small ones, even turtles and frogs (for consumption) and dribs and drabs of wilted vegetables and fruits – whatever she could get to sell, I suppose? There is rubbish strewn around the filthy wet street, and there she is, sitting there patiently waiting for customers. I wanted to give her some money, but was afraid she would be offended, and what good would my few dollars do for her anyway? She was there every morning, and I, a stranger and ‘alien’ to this ecosphere, felt a choking sadness, an anguished torment each time I walked by. Hapless. I can still taste the air, hear the soundscape echoing in my head, and see the spunky, brave yet forlorn image of this lady in my mind. Poverty is crushing to witness, and my heart breaks even more because she is so terribly old and frail.
Continue reading

deja vu

Revisiting memory imprints in the flesh. Back in beloved Hong Kong – ‘home’ for 8 years. Greeted at the airport by familiar soundscape, smells, rhythmic-patterned visuals.

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Hungry, looking for breakfast? Have some piping hot Shanghainese dumplings “xiao long bao” and lemon-barley drink. Sensory jet lag perhaps, the taste of exhaustion is heavy.

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HKIA – Hong Kong International Airport

Time to find the bus to my AirBnB. Walking through the passageway to the bus terminus, ears ringing with sonic imprints from the past, it is a gently surreal experience of orchestral recollection.

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Welcome back to Hong Kong!

It’s good to be back. Confronting sensory overload. Attraction. Repulsion. Amazement. Horror. It’s all here in this wonderful sonic-tactile-olfactory-visual-proprioceptive-challenging city!

softly yet

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Frenetic week. Confronting confrontation. Set aside a tiny aperture of Clement Space – beginning the day with quietude. Breakfast alone… local Hong Kong style, from the noisy lady around the corner with the paper hat – steaming hot dim sum … before launching head on into the chaos of the day.

Ah… Hong Kong… heady, head-smashing, overloading, amazing Hong Kong!

jumping melons

jumping melons

gyrating mandarins

broccoli crunch

crispy explosions

against tingling palate

tangy aromatics

polyphonic cacophony

grating chromatics

navigating bodies

bobbing, bumping

fading focus

dizzy, fevered

start, stop, start again

pushing rusty wheelbarrow

along bumpy path

uphill, down

left, right, across

worthy labour

just to see

loved ones

happy

it’s all good

anxiety at the BIG Anxiety

Big anxiety at The BIG Anxiety Festival!

Some of this narrative was introduced in my previous post, about Food Markers, but this ramble here is a kind of variation on the theme, from a different angle.

This 2017 working trip has been fraught with dramatic ups and downs, and here’s my as-brief-as-possible review of the Grand Experience, months afterwards. Beware, ye grammar-sticklers, I do move rapidly between tenses, because I am unfolding the unfolding as I am experiencing it, in the now, in the then, and in the next. And that, too, is my Autistic Bunny Authentic Experience-ing. Continue reading

food markers

Food can be multi sensorial markers for a journey, tangible physical tabs that help one chronicle the meandering and navigating along the way. Here are my food markers for this trip, a somewhat odd blend of agony and joy, despair and exhilaration all rolled into one jumbled mass.

After arriving at my place of abode, already down with some kind of nasty infection, feverish and in a brain fog, I set about trying to find some nourishment for my weary body. I didn’t manage to get far, due to the sorry state I was in, and settled for a hot dog and an orange juice from the pie and hot dog stand across the road, by the wharf. A sunny day, there were the usual seagulls and pigeons stalking all and any humans sitting at the benches eating. One man brought his little French Bulldog for some sunshine. It was difficult chewing down on the hotdog, my jaw slightly swollen and stiff, but I was quite determined to achieve the feat. The orange juice tasted like soap and plastic though, pretty vile, hence that was abandoned after a few swigs. I so hate to waste. Continue reading

bing!

All of us well into middle age now, and many of us have known one another since primary (grade) school days. We had a grand-ish reunion party at Bing Bing Ice Cream Gallery in Tanjung Katong a week ago. Just 20-plus ladies, but not an easy feat to bring the lot together in one place at the same time – and just imagine the decibel levels when all begin to chatter? Yes, sensory overload for me, and I suffered a pounding headache afterwards, but it was just lovely seeing old friends again, so the pain was worth it. And the ice cream? Simply delicious! Thank you, BL, for letting us descend upon the ice cream shop. And apologies to the customers who were treated to full auditory assault by us over enthusiastic ladies. We’ve not met up in such numbers for a long time. Please come back again to Bing Bing when it is less chaotic, and do enjoy the ice cream, because they serve fabulous flavours for every palate!

(My personal favourites? Gula Melaka with Red Bean, Coconut, and MaoShanWang Durian!)

stew

Festive seasons are to me like stew. I love food. I love eating. But I am wary of stew. Things get thrown willy nilly into a large pot, stirred, cooked and cooked, and then poured out in a chunky, goopy, mass. The sound it makes when a scoop of the stuff hits the plate or bowl? Quite nauseating, like a soft belching blended and layered with thick, dull, stretched out staccato. I do not much like stew. And I do not much like festivities.

Regardless, it was a goodly Christmas and New Year over here for this Autistic Foodie Bunny, and I am beginning to learn how to actually enjoy these things.  Continue reading

stillness

Stillness. Tranquility. Quiet contemplation. Sonorous repose.

Much needed especially in sensorially chaotic times like Christmas, New Year and other festive seasons.

Too much noise, too much food, too much smell, too much light, too much human interaction… just too much of everything, no matter how lovely, can easily derail the autistic with hypersensitivity.

My head is pounding and my muscles tense from all the pre-Christmas preparations and mini celebrations ahead of time. I love to see people enjoying themselves and I like the sound of laughter, but too much is too much and my senses start to scream.

Nevertheless, I do look forward to spending the next three days at our family holiday chalet together with the extended gang. This lot are cheery and easygoing, they do not insist on making me or anyone else join in their raucous goings-on. There is no oppressive social demand to sit at the table and silently cry into one’s soup while pretending to keep up with the meaningless babble. Two Christmases ago, that was what I was doing, entertaining wave after wave of superficial, self-important people in a fancy but not really classy apartment in prime location by the sea. I was the general dogsbody, locked inside a tedium dictated by charity. No more of that social rubbish. With this lot now, the food is always great – they are super foodies – and all that is required of me, mandatory, in fact, is that I turn up at meal times to eat. I am not even needed for small talk. So, the noise can be pretty daunting, but one unpleasant sensory bombardment in exchange for another delicious one, that is more than fair enough for this Foodie Bunny!

And Lucy has brought me a long, long, way indeed. Now, I have a Canine Angel. Non-speaking, elemental connectivity, no need for prattle and babble. Lucy is my Clement Space. My little nook for repair, restoration and refreshment. There will be lots of ‘alone-time’ with Lucy at our chalet in the suburbs. We can go for walks on our own, something I haven’t done much of since returning ‘home’. But now, I need to pack. The Angel needs her food. Oh, don’t forget to bring the Christmas Doggy Cookies!