August 21, 2011
There was no need to open my eyes to tell the difference; all I needed to do was breathe. One slow inhalation of air held in my body as long as possible. At the time, I couldn’t articulate exactly what it was, but what I could say was that with one deep breath my lungs were filled with the atmospheric odours particular to Hong Kong. The emphasis is on the word “particular.” It’s not pungent or sweet, not rancid or polluted, just particular and entirely different from the air I was used to breathing in Toronto. These are things I can tell you about Hong Kong air. It is certainly much more humid and dense. And the particles of pollution that mingle amongst the oxygen, carbon dioxide and ozone are more intense and intimidating. But as the air filtered through each vacuole of my lungs I began to get this subtle sense that Hong Kong air is also filled with something that isn’t so scientific, that doesn’t just arouse the odour receptors in my nose, but rather touches on something more intrinsic to my being.