// The world has slowed down, and I’m not sure we like it.

// I live in an apartment in Thailand, so sometimes I smell what other people are cooking. When this happens I shut my windows because it’s often the neighbor deep frying garlic or fish.

Now, if I’m frying garlic, I don’t mind the scent. It’s fragrant. But if it’s from her, it’s offensive. And we have a mini aquarium on our deck, six fish pots outside, and a tank inside, so on behalf of our fish, I’m unhappy to smell cooking fish.

// For many people around the world keeping busy with work provided enough of a distraction during their waking hours to allow them to get through the days. But with work on hold, they are alone with their thoughts, and family which could be fortunate or unfortunate depending on the strength of the relationships.

// Since living in Thailand, I’ve also learned to loathe the smell of burning. No, not the smoky scent of incense at temples or spirit houses, but the smell of garbage burning in front yards, or from the still-too-common slash and burn agriculture that is practiced in SE Asia.

// When I was temporarily living in Bangkok, a long-time expat asked why I was walking so fast. I stared at him with the ignorance of someone who is unaware of their habits. Slow down, he urged. What’s the hurry?

// Sometimes street-side cooking smells are tantalizing, but more often than not, you’ll get a whiff of rotting waste in the tropical heat or a less-than-developed sewage system. It was the smell that hit me the second time I came to Thailand to visit family, and it’s the smell that still makes my expat experience less than romantic.

// “Even though you look Thai, I can tell you’re not by the way you walk. You walk confidently and quickly,” a friend told me once. I knew my clumsy Thai and dress gave me away, but I hadn’t realized how much my body language did as well. Too American, so American, I don’t even realize it.

We’re impatient and we’re damn lucky when our cities, towns, and neighborhoods, for the most part, don’t stink. The absent of scents is still a smell, and I miss it.

14 replies on “Discover Prompts, Day 15 + 16: Scent & Slow

    1. Yes! Sometimes I think Thais can’t smell what we foreigners smell or even hear all the noise pollution. It’s really crazy what is considered the norm – and of course, you can flip it for outsiders looking at American culture too.


  1. I totally understand what you mean about the smell, when you come from some place else the smell really gets to you. But I think if you live long enough in a place, you come to accept it and just become one with the smell. I moved to Mumbai (India) a few years back. Whenever I used to visit Mumbai before I used to hate the smell that would hit your nose the second you stepped out of the plane. The smell of sea and rotting fish. But now I love this city and I’m just one with this smell. 🙈

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re a better person than me! 🙂 Even when I’ve been away and I’ve returned (many times) to Thailand, the familiar scent is revolting. But sometimes I pick out cooking smells, they’re familiar from my mom’s kitchen, but garbage smells I’ll never like.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s an interesting thought. I have the opposite problem — I’m so isolated at the moment, I don’t smell anything other than my own cooking (which isn’t terribly exciting usually). I think I miss smelling things!

    Liked by 1 person

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