the walk of selective focus~ Duesseldorf~ Germany
In our now, every event that happens seems to be of vital importance, every step we take, every little thing we see, every person we meet, all that we touch, smell, come across; but then we move into our future and most of these small significances begin to slowly blur into oblivion. What we are left with are very few salient moments that remain vivid in our minds and hearts for so many different reasons. But what lies hidden in the blur carries so much significance. It may lay dormant in our unconscious, but it is very much part of who and what we are today isn’t it?
the new york city of then
With the last New York post from this month, I am realizing how much of it is still in me. It has been one of the most personal months in my blog so far, so I will end it with a photo from then, from the time I was 21 and celebrating every single second I had in the city that never sleeps. We explored New York with so much openness, with inspiration, with joy, with boundless energy and that does something to you. I love photography because it captures moments that take you back, to feel, to remember to relive.
~ I am the one with the blond wig :)
New York City Metro
Ask anyone who rides the subway for more than one hour a day and they will be sure to have some strange stories to tell you. I have a few. I realize that with this month’s postings a lot of memories and stories keep floating by, and that is because I left them there. On the subway at the age of 20 I met the first and hopefully last flasher. It was evening and I was engrossed in my Herman Hesse book ( Narcissus and Goldmund) not realizing that I was alone in the subway car after everyone filtered out, when I felt a shadow looming in front of me. I Looked up and there was the classic open raincoat with an extraordinarily large man standing in front of me exhibiting his pride. Funny how react in expected situations, and me being totally caught off-guard, I cried. Then I ran to pull the emergency brakes which caused the train to stop, the doors to open, the giant man to run away and I was directed to another car with people in it. I was then hugged by a big bosomed African American lady who giggled and said: “relax darlin’, that was entertainment for free!”
And there were the other stories, but one is enough…
blurred shadow~ New York
Why is it that our memories fade and blur like shadows of what has been, and only moments of passion and pain remain vivid in our minds?
Some images print themselves in our minds and on our hearts because they affect us beyond the surface of visual impression. They go deep, they etch a mark on our soul…
If you were to ask me what moment in my journey to Congo was the most haunting, I would say this one when I took this photograph. This child was one of the youngest in the center for demobilized child soldiers. He never spoke, he just stood there and let his eyes that stared without blinking, the scar on his chin and his cloud of melancholy speak for him. His gaze was steady, his look far but near, his mind unreadable. It was a child who spent far too much time in the playground of the lords of war and cruelty.
a journey like no other~ boy on a camel in the desert~ Egypt
There are some places you travel to that remain alive in a very special place in your heart…
It really was a journey like no other, this adventure in Egypt. The pyramids, the sphinx, the desert, the camels, the ancient ruins, the mind boggling architecture, the friends, the strange carvings, the sense of being so different to the ancient culture that has been, the bedouins, the Nubians, and most of all the children of Egypt.
Our life experiences come together and culminate to make us who we are. This journey for me in this year to collect the salient bits of pieces of 12 of my life journeys, one a month, and to go through the process of examining them as one would a sand painting, with different colors, different essences and experiences and to then brush them away into the archives of my memories, hopefully learning a lesson in the process.
bedouin children~ Egypt
Imagine having a makeshift hut or a tent for a home, knowing that your home is where your belongings are, it is not a place, it is a moving entity…
Growing up in Lebanon I have always been fascinated by the lives of Bedouins. I watched their children play on dusty roadsides, barefoot, in and around tents, knowing that as the weather got colder, they would pack up and move again. I knew them to have a great honor system and to be extremely hospitable.
We were lucky as children to have a bedouin nanny named “Mahasen” live with us to help take care of my 2 younger brothers. Mahasen used to have very long black hair, a gorgeous figure and she danced with a jug of water on her head in the most elegant way. She spoke a language unknown to us and her arabic was colored with a unique accent that my little brother eventually picked up. Mahasen enchanted us all with her charm, entered our hearts and became part of our home, until the horrible day came when her father took her away from our family by force. I remember driving in our parents car years later in Beirut, Lebanon’s capital and seeing her with her own child on her arms begging for change from the passing cars. We froze, she froze, she ran to our car kissing my little brother and tears were flowing out of everyone. That was the last time I saw Mahasen until I was in Egypt a few years later and I saw her in every Bedouin child’s face, in their deep eyes, in their rags, in their brown skin and in the warmth I felt radiating between us.
the boy who spoke to the camel
Our memories work in a funny way that we mostly remember the things that stand out, the odd things…
Have you ever met someone who spoke to animals in the most natural way as if animals understood every word they said? I have.
This boy in this 15 year old film scan was the camel herder during a sunrise trip we took to the pyramids at Giza. It was a very early morning hour exactly at sunrise and I heard him going on and on carrying a conversation that sounded to me like he was speaking to another person. He spoke of things that in my mind a camel could not understand and would have absolutely no interest in, but nevertheless the boy went on and on. And this made me think that if I were to spend hours everyday in the desert and in the company of very few people, would I find it necessary to speak to animals in such an intimate manner? This was another one of those moments that remained etched in my mind and that kept coming back to me each time I saw a camel. Each one of us has some random memories that keep surfacing in our conscious minds and leave us wondering why.
two boys, the nile and a leaky boat
Moments with other people, they are the holders of the best of memories…
We were near Aswan, our boat drifting lazily in the January sun, the Nile river glowing with thousands of bright sequins, when we made a small pause near the shore. There, near the bank of the river were 2 boys, one of them I spoke to for a while, his name was aalaa (علاء). He had this little home made boat that he was so proud of and he used it to cross the Nile from his village to the neighboring one. He was transporting his friend who helped row the boat with his arms while aalaa used a tin can to scoop the water accumulating slowly in the bottom of their leaky boat. It was a small sketch of their daily life that stayed with me, and that drew so much endearment from me to them. Sometime it is the simplicity of life that makes it so extraordinary and the tiny things that make it so special.
More than half of my life In Lebanon was spent by the beach. We used to not even wait till school was over before moving to our summer little home by the seaside. With life on the shores of the Mediterranean came certain traditions, like swimming one hour-long to reach a cargo ship and jump from its deck, take a knife and a lemon on a ‘haske’ (a flat wooden row-boat), and dive to some nearby rocks to loosen sea urchins from the rocks, open them, clean them with seawater and then finally garnish them with some lemon juice before scooping out the orange caviar and humming our enjoyment. I can say for certain that life by the beach was always the highlight of the whole year for us children. This past summer I wanted to relive another special excitement from my childhood, which was waking up at dawn and joining the fishermen for 5 or 6 hours to witness the process of their daily catch. There is no meditation as soothing as those early morning hours spent rocked by slight movement of the boat, warmed by the early rays of morning sun and serenaded by fishermen’s songs as they dive in and out of the water in search for their sea dwellers.