At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Very recently I described the pained reaction of an elderly Chinese lady on public transit to the evocative fragrance of a gentleman who is a self-confessed pipe and cigar afficionado.
The background to this is that San Francisco buses (aka 'Muni') offer a rich spectrum of personality types in an atmosphere of drang and rush, much like the last helicopter out of Saigon on a sultry April evening, when the Vietcong are closing in and all available seating is taken.
The warmth of a fully stocked cow-pasture, with the fermentation of a refuse heap being turned into nice wholesome compost.
A panoply of stimuli for the nose and throat, as well as the ear and eye.
In many ways a joyous smorgasbord of experience.
The full range of sensation.
An adventure!

"I had taken a seat next to a little old Cantonese lady, who promptly clapped her hand to her wee nose to shield herself from the phenomenal pong.
Not only am I a white person, but I'm a smoker (pipes and cigarillos), and therefore more than average fragrant. She looked quite sick."
End quote.


Oh poor auntie! White dude all stinky-stinky la?
Please you not so worry, he die soon!
Then everything good.

This morning that essay elicited a comment from a reader.

Someone who identifies as 'I smell good!' said:
"But white people are a bad smelling lot! Large number of them have too active sweat glands, and bacteria! We Chinese do not have armpit bacteria, and bacause that are not so.
You, a smoker, must be the most nasty thing auntie encountered that day. You should be sorry. Stinky man. Confess!"
[End cite.]

But what more should I confess? I already admitted that I enjoy fine tobacco products. Which, truth be told, should remind the smeller of a hint of Aramis, or perhaps Sandalwood Fragrance for Men. A discreet and ever so evocative whisper, suited to a well-stocked library, a treasured book-room, the scarce-used study on the third floor of hotel out in the country side where you stayed one summer when you were eleven, or the now-deserted office of a favourite high school teacher who recently retired.

Perhaps rather than indulging in a strong Virginia flake that day, I should have instead smoked a Latakia blend, which would have cloaked me with a faint hint of the exotic. Something that reminded auntie of her long-gone childhood, when Aloes wood incense was shipped from the pier jutting out into Belcher Bay, during the days of sailing ships and paddle wheel ferries.
Resinous, alluring, and calming to the soul.
When Hong Kong was still "new".

The heat reflected from the water makes the hills beyond Kowloon shimmer, and a multitude of reflected sparkles midst the drifting foam stimulate the girlish imagination. There, THERE, is where the body of the boy emperor washed ashore seven and half centuries ago, near Lantau Island. Such a sad event, utterly heartbreaking! The tragic end of a dynasty.
That banyan over there was a mere sapling then.
It is now old, so old.

Maybe something with Perique?

A sharp vegetal odour, redolent of earth and rice paddies and green green tamarind trees ... sharp sunlight, and stark shadows in the shrubbery.
Somewhere there's splashing sound; the source not seen.
An egret takes wing.

I'm so sorry, I didn't know she was your auntie.
She looked older than Jayzus.
Totally antique.

I'm surprised her delicate little proboscis still works so well.


She would have loved me yesterday. First I smoked some Sullivan Powell Gentleman's Mixture (full Latakia), then Dunhill's Baby's Bottom (smooth, mellow, resinous), two different Balkan Blends (one of my own devising), a cigar-leaf blend with a touch of Oriental tobacco (yes, another of my own concoctions), followed by a fairly standard Balkan.

During the latter part of the day I was in the presence of numerous cigar smokers. Liga Privada No. 9 and Undercrown were represented -- both Nicaraguan, and consequenty full-bodied and spicy -- and Andrew on the veranda indulged himself with an Arturo Fuente Rosado. Mario enjoyed a Davidoff, while David and Riley ( a golden retriever) were at their usual table with something illicit shipped in from overseas: Cohiba Siglo VI.
Those canary yellow aluminum tubes looked so tempting!
Everyone was cheerful and had a very good time.
Your auntie would have loved it.

I ended the day with cigarillos.
Panter, made in Holland.

Yes, later today I shall head over to Chinatown again. I need to visit my bank (華美銀行), after which I shall have a snackipoo (可以一個菠蘿包,話唔定) and some milk-tea (港式奶茶, 香香滑滑啲).
And then, naturally, a pipe-full of tobacco.
Probably Greg Pease's Sixpence.
It smells very nice.

I strongly suspect that I've met miss 'I-smell-good', but for the life of me cannot recall who it might be. Probably a non-smoker.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


  • At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Parse me the reaction of Cantonese nostrils to the scent of a German who smokes nothing but Clan.


  • At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Curious bus passenger said…

    Do you still smell bad, one year later?

  • At 7:50 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…


    Two years later. Yes. Worse than ever. And intend to keep that up.

    Hmmmmm, fragrant!


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