The streets are their home, their lives nomadic, moving from place to place, staring at nothingness, invisible to others, just passing by, walking like ghosts. I look, I wonder, what their stories are, what wrong turns landed them where they are today, what were they before, what toys they played with as children, what made them giggle…
No matter who we are, where we come from or how we live, we ask ourselves at least once in our lifetime : “Why are we here?”
It is the simplest and most profound of all questions, the one that has never been answered and that will never stop being asked.
What naturally follows is the next question: “Does it start and end here on this planet?” This questioned has been tossed around and answered in so many different ways by so many religions, schools of thought, philosophies, that we are left as uncertain as when we first asked these questions.
Which leaves me with one more question: “Are we here in transit, passing by? And if so, then have we accomplished our mission if we had one? Or were we stuck in a human stop situation?”
random and recurring thoughts on a grey day in Shanghai…
It is strange after living in countries that put so much emphasis on traffic safety regulations, like the obligatory use of helmets, children’s safety, seat belts…etc, to live in Shanghai and witness the loose and almost too relaxed regulations for transportation. This is of course not too alien to me, having lived my first twenty years in Lebanon where everything goes, but I still get a shock each time I see a child riding the Shanghai traffic in this way. All is left to chance, good luck and to the faith that other drivers will be careful. But there has not been a week where I did not see at least one moped, motorcycle, bicycle or car accident in the streets of the city, so there must be something wrong with this picture!
Do you know who you neighbor is?
I have been seeing this man around our neighborhood in Shanghai for almost 5 years. He is always on on his tricycle, always smoking, always collecting bits and pieces and riding away.
How many people are inside the frames of our lives that we know absolutely nothing about?
Or is this life in a big city? I remember living on Jones Street in New York City and not knowing anyone who lived in my little building personally…
We seem to create a bubble for ourselves our families and our few friends that we move inside of as spectators of life around us. This certainly was not the case in villages and in tribal communities.
How I wish things were different…
On an afternoon stroll in today’s very windy and cold streets of Shanghai with my friend Sabrina, we met these really sweet Shanghainese young men who most certainly have a story to tell. They loved the attention and the camera pointed at them and they carried on to pose, straighten their matching jackets, and smile shyly as I clicked away. Tufic later thought they reminded him of a Chinese version of the “Beatles” on their way to furnish their first set before a concert… Whatever their story is, they were totally charming in their shy giggly way.