Getting out of that cushioned chair was like easing out of five hours of inertia; the old fellow next door had begun rising up from a dream, seven-eighths submerged, with drool lingering out the corner of his dry mouth. And then, the captain announces we have landed. With the remainder of what felt like an hour, our graceful plane plodded along to the nearest passenger boarding bridge—during this time, I imagined being in one of those mobility scooters, except, on a much grander scale. They’re fantastic! When I first saw this contraption a week later in Booragoon, it had zoomed past me faster than I ever remember seeing the village delinquent, running from his upset Mother’s wooden spoon.
I had entered the unknown, or, rather the once known; things are a little different when you’re a fresh newborn birthed out of what Huxley had called the ‘strawberry pink alcove’. It was now seventeen years and, a hundred and twenty-seven centimetres later, when I emerged out from the passenger door. Then a phantasmal herd of bison charged towards me with, six degrees of centigrade trailing in their wake.
The journey down the passageways and immigration hall echoed some of my thoughts from Orwell: Humans in transit, bodies not so concerned with the space between where they have been and where they will be. Before having reached the desk manned by an endomorphic man, topped with a tuft of blonde hair, and framed by a not-so-flattering uniform. I swapped my Thai passport for its Australian companion with one, smooth motion—it felt like, espionage.
Greeted by the exit of Terminal One, the sliding doors opened with a whoosh; more frozen tendrils lashed out at the corners of my lips. After having lived right on the equator, the local tropical climate could never have amounted to this temperature. More shocking, was how the environment was so—for lack of a better word—sterile. I breathed in air that had no moisture. This open space felt so pristine, as if I had just gotten out of a warm, winter bath, hurrying for my towel. Then I looked up, saw how there weren’t any fluffy white sheep left, roaming above; and smiled at the lovely greeting made, from that cerulean sky.
My world was filled with a multitude of noises, except, without the smog, and screeching of motorbike tires on black asphalt. Perth, felt so, organised; buildings were arranged in such a way for no lost space, panes of clear glass towering high above like the giants in our ancient mythology. I had my mouth agape and kept it like that, for there was no fear of a stray fly having a pit stop on my cherry pink tongue. This place was too clean. Although, there was the occasional squashed plastic cup: remnants of some much-needed rehydration, after a rough, night out.
Then I began to miss the street food: grilled marinated chicken, som tum, the alluring smell of some noodle soup broth; and, all the spice, sneaking out of a bowl of freshly chopped bird’s eye chillies. But, I later got introduced to a new assortment of aromas, from roasted coffee beans, green smoothies, to the novel strawberry punnet—not yet rejected by government regulations.
Words by Chakris Srisuwan