Monday, April 10, 2017

H - Hongkong -Sniffed out in Hong Kong

 Been there ... Done that 

Sniffed out in Hong Kong












I must confess I was adequately warned about it. 
Some people I know had, had their share of misadventures with it. 

In fact, that is what  raised my curiosity. I had to experience it.  
You live life only once and I certainly did not want to die ignorant.  

I looked up google maps,  made note of directions and walked a couple of miles into alleyways that must have carried years and years of  history and commerce with it.  

It was all intriguing and fascinating. 

To the eyes the place felt like Bombay for its sheer energy and enterprise. 
To the body the place felt like Chennai  for its heat and humidity .
To the heart the place felt foreign at the same time it felt like home. 
Rich, fertile, green mountains that nurtured thousands of species of animals and plants stood in stark contrast to the sprawling urban jungle, that stood tall and high in all that reclaimed land. It stretched not horizontally but vertically to dizzying heights that made you feel the awe for the sheer wonders of modern  man made creation. 

It was relatively clean ( considering what you are used to if you have lived in Indian cities) and extremely safe even in the middle of the night ( although the over cautious traveller in me refuses to take chances)

It was extremely modern and commercialized. What with Louis vitton, Cartier, Dior, Chanel, Versace, Prada and Jimmy choo outlets it felt like Champ de elysees of the east.

 But as a stark contrast  it also exuded a quaint old world charm. The narrow alleyways with hawkers selling stuff at mind boggling and ridiculously low prices. ( After you have numbed your conscience and bargained your way through.).               

It felt very foreign in a sense since people on the streets hardly spoke or understood English.  But it felt very much like home since the street smart locals put their gadgets and their mastery over sign  language to good use and communicated to make up for the lack of mastery over that arguably universal language. 
The people ... they were proud and yet they were humble.

Ah ... but I have digressed a lot.  

I walk through the narrow alleyways, clicking away pictures and enter a market. Finally I am there and I decide to take a shot at it.
.  
I try my hand at bargaining over the price.  But they see the tourist in me in the way I am cheekily taking photographs and refuse to budge on the price.   

They have probably made a killing since I agreed for a price just 20% lower than what they quoted. I just could not bargain any more since my impatient self  was raring to go and to take a shot at this piece  of experience for what felt like a reasonable cost. 
But it had to wait.  People over there do not do this on the streets or anywhere in public.

They packed it well for me and I tucked it deep into my bag.

 I headed back with the single minded determination of trying it out in privacy once I was safely in my hotel room. 

The underground trains were crowded. It was peak hour evening traffic.  But I managed to get a seat.



I clutched my bag close to my chest.  That is when it struck me.

It was the Durian.
That exotic fruit cut and packed in polystyrene  container that was safely tucked inside my bag.  

It started smelling. 

I braved  the smell and held it closer to myself in the hope that the other passengers around me do not smell it. 

I consoled myself saying they could suspect it in anyone’s bag .

It is like farting in a crowded room or peeing in a pool. No one would get to know who did it, unless your face gives it away.

It did not take them much time to figure it out.  Faces turned towards me. The way I was clutching my bag, I think I gave it away. 

To say it was embarrassing, would be an understatement .  I look up and down the train trying to avoid other people’s gaze.  And this is what catches my attention.




Damn ... Will they dump me off the train? 
Will they imprison me?  
Will they deport me from this country? 

If it was a fine I would have gladly paid. Ok, may be I would have grudgingly paid.  
Why is there no fine for Durian?  Is probably is a bigger and more unpardonable crime than smoking, eating, drinking or carrying inflammable goods ? 

Oh no !!!  I should have been careful .  Me and my misadventures . It was’nt funny at all.
Thankfully my  station arrives and I quickly get off the train and make a quick exit off the station. 
On the streets I take long strides and walk like I am chased by a spirit. In my mind I can almost imagine the cops chasing me from all sides. 

 I do not have the guts to look back and check. 
I make my way into the hotel entrance and into the elevator. The elevator door closes on me.


Honestly, I cannot fathom how I did not notice this signboard in all the previous instances days when I took the elevator.

Now I cannot even plead ignorance.   I get into my room and  I am still holding my bag close to my chest.  It does not help much. 

By now there is no mistaking the smell of the  Durian.
Is it foul ? 
Is it sweet ?
I cannot come to a decision on that bit.
I guess ‘Smell’ like beauty lies in the noses of the beholder.

it emanates a smell that cannot be controlled.  Soon the room smells of durian.  There are no windows that can be opened. 
The only place to bury the Durian was in my stomach.  I quickly pick a piece up. It looks like a piece  of chicken. The strict vegetarian in me revolts. 

But right now there is no other place for the two pieces of Durian to go but into my mouth and then into my belly. I close my eyes, roll up my nose and put one piece into my mouth.



It was an orgasmic moment.
What the nose smells the tongue does not.

The sweet, fleshy Durian pulp, almost melts into my mouth.
My taste buds ejaculate in sheer ecstasy.

I pick up another piece, notice to remove the seed and slowly and steadily let my taste buds linger on this experience for just a little while more before it melts into my mouth. Long after the after-taste has vanished from my tongue, the taste buds linger for more.

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD SMELL AS SWEET  said Shakespeare .


Clearly that bloke had not been through the Durian experience in his lifetime.   

I cringe when I think of the dirty looks, the co-passengers gave me on the underground train and the imaginary cops who chased me on the streets.  For now I do not have the gumption to try out another misadventure.

But who knows ? It is certainly worth the second try. And a third ...  

No wonder the South east Asians call it the King of fruits.
 
              

1 comment:

  1. I've been hearing about this stuff for years. Your post was probably the most descriptive and captivating Durian story I've read yet. I'm curious to try the darn fruit--but also a bit hesitant.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete

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