Wanderlust~

yanghsuo portrait 2.jpg

an image of me meeting a local woman and child,  taken by a good friend on an adventure in Yangshuo, China, a few years back.

How gratifying it is to explore the spinning sphere we call home. Each time I plan a new trip, I feel a bubbling of excitement at the unknown that would undoubtedly meet, the amazing people who cross my path and the images my camera would capture. It is as soul nourishing journey when I am far from my routine, away from the usual comforts of home and when I get the chance to push the limits of what I know. It makes me think of how knowledge was collected prior to the industrial revolution and the schooling systems that created machines for the industry; before that time knowledge was sought through experience, apprenticeship and exploration. What an incredibly esoteric experience.

Where is your next journey taking you?

Discovering the ladder of understanding~

ascension

This morning I was driving my daughter to her weekend Chinese class and we had a very interesting conversation. She was complaining about her inability to always find interest in continuing to learn Chinese whilst living in Germany and this took us to musings about the human brain and how we, humans have so much unused potential. It has been said that humans only use 10% of the brain capacity and once we push and struggle to learn  new things, we are perhaps activating otherwise dormant wirings in our brain and faculties. She became very interested in the process and walked to the class with a spring in her step.

Day 68 of 365~ 

image is a composite of a wall in Hong Kong and a closeup portrait of my daughter. 

The Good People

The way to explore slowly

The way to explore slowly

Life is slow in Yunnan. People walk with no rush; the fields can wait. The clouds change form in slow motion; the lush mountains are great company. Even the birds chirp melodically and without strain; it’s just the way it is. In a place like that, a bicycle fits so well for exploring at the speed of the land. I came upon a child and his grandfather walking with their shadows along the rice fields and enjoying the caressing rays of the gentle sun. I got off my bicycle and began photographing them after getting their clear unspoken agreement. Then I saw alarm in their eyes as they gestured towards me; I turned around and watched my bicycle tumble with my second camera and my bag into the rice field. This man with grace, ease and a smile, put his grandson down, helped me lift my now damaged mode of transportation, with its dislocated wheel. He gestured to me and we communicated with my limited Mandarin as he helped carry my bicycle back the other way towards his home, his little grandson following us shyly. The man asked me to wait as he brought out his toolbox and slowly and methodically fixed the wheel and tested it. He smiled and his granddaughter joined them as they posed for a last photograph before I took off feeling lighter, happier, and grateful for the good people who give without counting the cost, who help because it is human to do so.

warmed by the sun and a grandparent

warmed by the sun and a grandparent

the good people

the good people

The future is not waiting

worker in a Shanghai old alley

worker in a Shanghai old alley

The thing about the future is that is seems to happen on time and not wait for us to be ready to receive it. And always things appear to be later than we think, don’t they?

Today I was with a friend on a photo walk in an old Shanghai neighborhood condemned to demolition and we saw that from week to week homes were being demolished leaving in the rubble, shoes, clothing, old furniture, toys…  It would seem that people had very little time to pack up and leave their homes before they were destroyed and we wondered at the levels of stress this must have caused a family that lived there possibly all their lives.  Change is often associated with pain, even if it was a change were seeking all along.

Day 30~ October 30th~ Yunnan

from the West to the East~ the gift of smoke

Since the 7th century in China, Opium was ingested for medicinal purposes and never smoked. Then in the 17th centurycame the Europeans and introduced the mixing of opium with tobacco to be smoked making it the most addictive practice among the Chinese. This led to the two famous opium wars and after several attempts from the Chinese to ban the import of opium, attacks on the shores of China by the British and eventually several treaties that according to historical accounts marked the beginning of the century of humiliation of this Asian nation.

Today, everywhere you look, people, young and old are smoking tobacco on the streets of China.

A new project beginning on February 1st!

lanterns in the night

It has been an amazing year full of wonderful experiences, learning and great new friends in photography and in life. As my project came to a close I realized slowly what the next step needs to be. A deepening into past experiences and a harvesting of those special times in a fresh new way through photography, images and a bit of storytelling.

 

“365 from the archive~a deepening journey” will begin in two days and it starts where it all started with me as far as I remember, my home country, Lebanon.

Until then! Stay well and enjoy the wonderful lanterns that adorn the old streets of Shanghai for the coming of the Spring Festival!

prayers in lanterns

 

Day *Three Hundred Sixty Five*, January 22, 2012

it starts and it ends in Shanghai

My project finally comes to its ending at the exact ending of the lunar year. With its end we moved into a new year, an auspicious year, the year of the Dragon! This daily project started in Shanghai and went to the Philippines, Xinjiang, Germany, Spain, Lebanon, Switzerland, Hong Kong,  France and then back to Shanghai again to end on the eve of the big celebrations in the vibrant city.

It has been quite the journey for me, filled with inspiration, endurance, discipline, moments of joy, freedom, seriousness, quiet, chaos, new ideas, new skills, learning, contemplation, expression, art, sharing and a great new open way of looking and of seeing the world around me.

Best of all, it has been a great chance to meet so many people of like mind, wonderful photographers, inspiring artists and so many whose daily presence was interwoven into my  project and whose work and support inspired me and kept me going.

At the end of this, I want to thank you all, my friends, for being the amazing people that you are and hoping to continue this brilliant and inspiring affair with photography together along the way.

photo taken: a composite of the skyline of shanghai with the year of the dragon fireworks on the night of January 22nd.

Day Three Hundred Fifty Six, January 13, 2012

all must explode by January 23rd

Many adults have seen at least once in their life a show of fireworks, either at one of the disney kingdoms, at the NYC Macy’s parade, New Year’s celebrations… These shows are usually organized, timed and synchronized.

Well the Chinese New Year celebrations in Shanghai are nothing like that. It is like a war. Every family wants to light up the sky on every street corner. It is a deafening chaotic mess and it is so much fun! Every year that we are here in town for the holidays, I end up walking the streets from sundown till past midnight with a fellow enthusiastic photographer or two, braving the cold and the explosions taking tons of photos and bribing our way into building roof tops with a few rmb bills to the doorman. This year will be no different and we are hoping for a dry night!

Chinese new year fireworks 2010

Day Three Hundred Fifty Two, January 9, 2012

it is getting louder

As China gets ready to shed the old ‘rabbit’ year and to welcome in the new ‘dragon’ year, fireworks can be heard all over the city. Fireworks, which were originally invented in China and became popular as early as the Song Dynasty, have a very strong place in the culture and daily lives of the Chinese. Not only is the new year celebrated with an explosion of fireworks, also shop openings and moving to a new home, among other important events. This year we decided to stay in Shanghai for the New Year holiday, and the city is gradually getting louder and louder as we approach the big day next week.

lighting up the firecrackers

photos taken: boys playing with firecrackers in the city streets.

Day Three Hundred Five, November 23, 2011

plants and a smile

We live at a time where most people have broken their connection to the land. What I mean by that is the connection that is born out of planting your own food, getting your hands dirty with soil, spending time daily in your garden, sleeping under trees, hunting for your food, the way humans were meant to be. In our so called ‘modern’ world some of our children grow up believing that eggs are born in  supermarkets and vegetables in freezers, cans and bags. It is a pity that, because every single time I see someone who gets their hand dirty with earth, a huge smile tends to come with the job. Even as babies, we loved to dig in the sand or dirt, and as toddlers we wondered at the magic of a green plant emerging from the soil. Is it natural to be away from that source of happiness as adults?

Just a ponder from a 16th floor apartment missing the smell of the earth.