Isn’t it just wonderful that smells can sometimes evoke a memory that has been stashed away in the corner of your mind? It was the case for me, wondering around the beach at Jimbaran where in the midst of the boats and nets that littered the beach, I was greeted by a smell that I had known from the many night catching crabs at the Mata Jetty or in my wanderings through some of the coastal villages of Singapore. It was a smell that came from rotting fish mixed with the salt from the sea, which, together with the scene before my eyes, brought a sense of déjà vu. Surveying the scene: the splash of colours that the boats brought to the white of the sand of the beach, as well as the grey and brown of newer nets sitting next to those yellowed by through use, it did seem indeed that it was one that I had once been familiar with. It is probably a scene that is typical of the many fishing villages that can be found all over the Malay Archipelago, typical of Singapore once, but out of place in the modern metropolis much of Singapore has become.
For a brief moment, I did forget where I was, as I weaved my way through nets and baskets, gratefully drawing in with each breath, a smell which I would otherwise not have found too pleasing. I had imagined that I was back where I might have once been, watching the boats as they came ashore to be greeted by the small crowd which had gathered in anticipation of having the first pick of the slippery silvery harvest that came with each boat. For that brief moment, I felt that I was home again, home amongst the sights and smells I had once taken for granted.
Around the beach at Jimbaran: