Neighbourhood smell

Walking around the neighbourhood we perceive its different smells and weigh up the influence these notes have on the personalities of the people who live here. With the passage of time we become more and more aware of how closely memory is associated with the smells of the places we visit, and also with the weather, the air temperature, the season of the year. A sunny day smells different from a cloudy day, heat smells different from cold, and summer smells increasingly from winter. And without our being aware of it, each situation, with its distinctive odour, pleasant or unpleasant, fixes in the memory the recollection of the lived moment. And even though the notes are increasingly similar, the characters are increasingly distinct.

The notes of the neighbourhood do not have the variety of colours of the notes of the establishments that comprise it. The identity of the neighbourhood corresponds to a single tone that identifies it and at the same time distinguishes it from other neighbourhoods, but shops that inhabit it do offer an amalgam of mixed light and colour in its interior. It is surprising how the smell can help us memorize, surprising us with the memory. It only takes a single chord to activate remembering.

There are entertaining and unfinished neighbourhood smells, with a very special style, where the piquant tang of fresh cat urine, carried on the breeze, rubs against the walls and ironwork, permeating and mingling with the various notes that waft from the bakeries, hardware stores and bars; the smell of bread, naphthalene and alcohol drawing different sensations in the air with a firm sure line, colourful and exciting, full of life and sensuality like Cubist drawings.

In many cases a neighbourhood establishes itself as a nerve centre and point of departure for a series of chords that drive one to set off on foot in search of other neighbourhoods: the abstract, the surreal and any other style. The visualizing of these apparently static forms, structures that move their inertia can, in effect, engender in the psyche models of thinking about smelling. Another important thing about smelling is not to be in a hurry. In general, people who are in a hurry squander their lives in insignificant trifles.