When I returned to my room in Chungking Mansions on my first afternoon there, I walked into a smell that was a lot like soggy bread and when I sat on my bed, the blanket felt damp. At first I thought that when Hari or Jun cleaned my bathroom, which was only inches from where I slept, perhaps they’d inadvertently sprayed the outer room with water. Then I realized that in my zipped suitcase, out of cleaning range, my clothes were damp too.
I handed over the bedding from my narrow little cot and replaced it with the muted earthy colors of vanilla and dark green, punctuated with a bright magenta cushion, and lined my tiny windowsill with a pot of azalea and one of jasmine that I found at the flower market on the edge of my new neighborhood.
A few days later I found a magazine with photographs of