One of the wonderful phenomena to watch in Shanghai parks and on its riverside in the early morning, is the congregation of retired men sending their well cared for and brilliantly crafted kites high into the city sky. They do this for long hours watching the extensions of their souls soar into worlds unknown, higher and higher above the noise of the city where all is calm and harmonious, into a state of freedom where they too one day wish to be…
Life these days is becoming a struggle to base oneself in the known, in scientific certainties, in facts confirmed in Wikipedia, in information validated by experts on television, on twitter, in newspapers,… we just need to have everything open and clear with no unpleasant surprises. But what about life’s mysteries? Do we still give room for those? Or do we miss them in our rush after the next confirmed fact?
I was walking the busy streets of Shanghai today when I felt something stop me in my tracks. Not just me, but a few other people too. There were birds tracing a circle around this building again and again and again, like a sacred dance for more than 20 minutes. The same circle, which was more like a spiral, and it was the most awe inspiring sight for me in the city that day. I felt a great calm come over me as I watched them and I knew that this phenomenon will forever be part of of my mystery box, my collection of unknowns, to marvel at and to mystery dream about.
No matter where we travel to, no matter how exciting an adventure is, there is nothing more satisfying than the return home. What waits at home is a sense of relief, to go back to the familiar, to the relaxed knowing that all is well and safe, the joy of being back in the nest. And for a child, their toys become exciting all over again, their bed a haven of comfort and their home a place of well-being. Yes, it is always good to go back home.
This was one of the days that will have a highlight in my memories, for sure it will, and not only because I am for the first time posting iphone photos in my 365 project, but because it was a day that went off course. I was flying back from Geneva to Shanghai via Doha (Qatar), and the first leg of the flight was all well and smooth. Most of us fly so much these days that we only lend half an ear to the safety instruction videos or the bored crew members demonstrations at take-off. 3 hours into the second leg of the journey (Doha to Shanghai), the monitor screen caught my sleepy eye, “hmmm we are not supposed to be making circles are we”? And what is that jet of liquid flying out the wings? Should we be concerned? Why isn’t anyone saying anything?
And many details, questions, concerns, circling plane, jet fuel thrown out of the wings, 3 extra hours packed with mystery, we head back to where we came from. Of course, no one cared to explain what was going on, and the 250 or so passengers were dropped back at the airport utterly clueless and exhausted waiting for news on another flight.
There was of course a valid reason for the plane to turn around (a medical emergency on the flight), but I realized on this day the importance of being prepared, the value of proper people handling, the need for grace under pressure, all of which were close to non existent. It made me feel a great concern for the times we live in, and for who and what and who we put our lives at the mercy of. Do we trust too much because we have no choice? Are the people put in these critical positions worthy of our trust?
Yes, strange day and important day to rethink so many things, and a day to be forced out of my routine way of going on. A great book was finished too but that’s only a side story.
Doing a 365 photography project, you are bound to have a day spent in airports. These days we find ourselves in transit so often and our children become expert travelers at such a young age.
I still remember my first flight as a child (from Lebanon to Cyprus) and how totally exciting it was for me to get on that flying machine that was almost too magical to comprehend. I still remember so many little details and the flights after that were counted on a diary page proudly as a great achievement in the world of adventures and quests.
Not for my daughter, she flies too much to keep count of her journeys, too often for it to be super special, and too easily available for it to be an achievement. Another strange onset of the modern world we are creating!
Today was a day of planes, airports, cars and more airports. I traveled over flatlands, grasslands, rivers, snow capped mountains, deserts and finally arrived at night in Kashgar after a few hours break in Urumqi. The first odd thing you meet in this place is that the locals, 70% Uyghur and other minorities, follow their own time zone, while all official clocks are set to Beijing time. So at any moment you have to be aware if a person is speaking to you about local time (which is 2 hours earlier) or official time. The languages spoken are not dialects of Chinese, they are completely different language and written in arabic letters. Exploring starts after a short night’s sleep..