A scent of the tropics

Home again in a surreal winter landscape. My last 'blue' text about the frozen nose and odorless Nordic winter life feels if possible, even more appropriate, as I just returned from a week in the tropics. Tropics by the way, does anyone use that word anymore? Or is it a relic of colonial times or Tintin-magazines? I happened to find the anachronistic word in my cerebral cortex, and it sounded stylish seep out when I was at Tiger of Sweden and got equiped before this particular trip when Ragni began to moan with laughter and said giggling that our 23-year age difference probably shows sometimes anyway. 

I've just recovered from jet lag and sitting in my little writer's hut and looking out over a landscape so cold and white to the fear of a new ice age seems highly relevant. 166 days in a row in Stockholm with snow cover, I read on the net. 166 days? It's for f ... almost half the year and the weathermen are still with untouched facial expressions on TV and promises continued degrees below zero. I know you are many who defend the four seasons. But at what price? Is it worth it to get three days over 26 degrees when you voluntarily seek shade and ten days flowering and two mushroom picking walks to put up with half a year of odorless refrigerating pain? With this rhetorical question I close that chapter and recognizes only six months in the sweet-smelling summer climate I found in the tropics last week would suit me perfectly. Now I can tolerate, although the heat surprising good and was pretty lonely out there when I practised my 200 meter intervals on the majestic Formula 1 track in the middle of day's hottest hours.

Singapore has been much criticized for its strict laws and the society of control. It is possible that there is a larger backside to it than what we as tourists notice but in such a short time to go from a developing country to one of the most efficient in the countries is very impressive. Security is comprehensive and you can undisturbed walk around in the wildest neighborhood in the middle of the night with an open wallet in hand without taking any risk. It is clear that the harsh punishment seems inhumane, but once in place, I think it's just the thieves who are sad. Personally, I also appreciate the purity both in the air and on the ground very much. In the tropical heat thriving bacteria and any leftovers quickly turned into pests paradise with stale rotten aroma experiences as a result. Singapore has a wonderful scent! So much richer and more varied than here at home, but thanks to the puritanical laws never sees a glimpse of debris somewhere.

I stayed in a colonial dream property, The Fullerton, which in my opinion is both grander and far more beautiful location than the world famous Raffles Hotel. When I assumed my well planned breakfast and rested for an hour laced me on my shoes and just outside the door ar ethe beautiful 1800-century bridges Cavanaugh Bridge and Anderson Bridge as one-minute lead over the now completely clean Singapore River that divides the small country from east to west into the tropical rainforest. Yes it was a truth with modification. I ended up in an extremely well-planned park, but so full of fragrant flowers and lush green that I smiled even when the lactic acid threshold is passed. The city center around Singapore Bay with unreal Marina Sands with its elongated boat on the roof of the three giant hotel scrapers across the field of vision is filled with interesting and futuristic architectural masterpiece and every month there is a new landmark. I pass by outdoor concerts and photographing tourist hordes, but states that it is non-smoking and that solar heating of various materials have free reign. Fragrant heated concrete and asphalt, hardwood in all imaginable eucalyptus-like notes, dry earth, warm sea, culturally diverse cooking fumes from all the neat restaurants with hard hygienic requirements, and so suddenly the best of everything, rain smells. In a few seconds switches the dry scorching landscape scent picture overall. Most fond get my nose during the first few minutes of rain when the water enhancing scent effect not only brings freshness, but when the sun heated aromas mixed with the wet soil and the temperature changes so quickly that for a few tenths of a second feel cooler air that underscores the leg and a few degrees warmer breeze that caresses the neck and cheek.

Although the tropical nights are filled with aroma sensations. During an evening walk after one of the more successful tastings that I have led, I got an incredibly exciting fragrance déjà vu. Standing far out on a pier, I was suddenly met by a highly familiar and yet so temporally distant scent that it took me a few seconds to put it right. And the result is fascinating to say the least. When I was ten years old, my biggest interest was collectiong butterflies. Yes you red that right. I was an obsessive butterfly collector who read about every species and visited Museum of Natural History as often as I could to get a glimpse of all the exotic albeit pale copies of the original rainforest. My wet dream was the gigantic bird butterflies from New Guinea, Borneo and Sumatra. One day my uncle Stefan came to us and told us that he cleared his mother's attic, and that he had found something that I probably would appreciate. He slipped out a small transparent box and I saw at once what it was that got my heart rate go through the roof. The sparkling iridescent green and just shimmering black beamed one Raja Brooke against me. I had received my first bird butterfly. This particular specimen could read was captured in Malaysia. When I was overjoyed came home one winter evening in 1972, I opened the little box carefully and was greeted immediately by a very special, well not very good, but beautifully associated with this lovely moment when I become the owner of a Raja Brooke, scent of heavy wet black soil, mothballs, cardboard and trapped dried spices and humid tropical night. Standing on the pier in March 2013 just a few miles from Malaysia showed that smell again!

Lidingö March 20


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