The delight of a trip is the tumbling out of stories inside your head that come to you unasked long after you return home; and, whilst you are away, the reverse occurs when home comes wafting to you in the sudden collision with a smell or a sound, that grips your heart with nostalgia for what it recalls uninvited.
Devoid of religious rituals I have, over the years, conjured many of my own that symbolize the feelings of my heart; and so amongst my many personalized rituals, flowers and their heady scents offer interpretations of private memories I hold dear. In Cambodia the jasmine gajara is replaced by a tiny, tight, rosary-like structure of jasmine buds. Or otherwise thin sticks upon which jasmines are skewered together with a crowning glory of a bright colourful flower, that stands in contrast to the milky whiteness of these pre-pubescent flowers; and they soak you in the seduction of their potent fragrance like a skilled lover does. Mixed with this are the many joss sticks that fill the air with mingling smells of sandalwood and frangapani, lemon grass and orchids.....
It is well known by now to all my friends that I am besotted over my furball child. Leaving her behind with zillions of instructions for her well being (!), I always leave with a heavy heart (!!) knowing I will be starved of my fur-fix whilst wandering away from home(!!!). So it will come as no surprise that any cat anywhere elicits a response from me that isn't ever calm or dignified (!!!!). Amongst the many fur friends of Cambodia, it was the short tailed, rather mangy creature that showed up on our beautiful wooden sit-out balcony in Phnom Penh, from where we could see the stretch of the river front, that stole my heart the most. I presume it was a "he"....and though he wasn't all that spruced up....but hey, I think he had good taste to come visiting with me each morning (!!!!).
I am sure I should sign up for the "go berserk with Nokia phone camera" contest. For those who may not know, I earned my way through graduate school in Baroda by being a photographer and was Jyoti Bhatt's student too. And it maybe that I had a sort of love hate relationship with the camera that I chose to never touch a professional camera after getting my scholarship in 1982. So it could be the residue of old stubbornness or just old age "moronity", that keeps my finger only on my phone camera button, as I phoo-phoo the very professional stuff that Surendran and Mithun strut about with! So let's toast the Nokia N 79 please!
I must end today's epistle my meeting up with the Cambodian gecko! In the beauty of our Siem Reap hotel I was transfixed one twilight to see a sixteen inch (trust my maths please!) lizard on the wall. My first reaction was to think it was an ornamental piece and thought the placement rather odd. And then it moved! Ok friends.....I was spooked beyond spookdom and galloped off only to notice that the entire ceiling was virtually a lizards highway above my head!!!
I shall leave you with the imagined image of me, skirt hiked up till my ears, running down the corridor, half bent and incoherent! Hey....I didn't say it was a pretty picture....just a sorry sight!