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.
A warm world is where I want to be, where smiles animate the stiffest of faces, where hugs disarm the most guarded of people, where trust draws out trust, and where no one will find themselves with no one to turn to on a chilly day.
Lebanese people are known to travel the world, perhaps having something to do with their Phoenician ancestry. But as with any other country, there are the few who are left behind to guard the innocence. I mean the kind of innocence that is so endearing it borders and utter kindness.
This is the kind of old man who would ask you where you are coming from assuming from you camera that you must be a tourist, otherwise why would you want to photograph a stupid vegetable stall. And then you answer, something like Shanghai, and he then goes on to ask you if you know so and so who is married to so and so, whose friend travelled to China, and did you happen to meet them there? It is so lovely to meet people like this, where simplicity is a joy, and life is uncomplicated, basic, uncluttered with too much information.
Eyes like these are much more easily brought to glow of wonder.
Please meet this sweet couple. They live in a small room at the entrance of a construction site on a Shanghai street. The bikes behind them belong to some of the workers on the site. They were in their little home doing housework when I passed by with my camera, we exchanged smiles and I asked if I may photograph them. They invited me in, while they straightened their brushed their hair and straightened their clothes for the photo.
If I were to put a word to describe these people, it would certainly be ‘kind’. Yes, I met with kindness today and it made my day so much more valuable.
To believe in fairies
To imagine what their tiny wings look like
To dream about seeing them one day
To struggle with patience
To make them offerings
To promise to be kind
To be respectful of nature and its helpers
To have a mind sparkling with the wonder of mysteries unsolved
Is the charmed and magical world of a child
When I first arrive a new and foreign place, the first thing I am drawn to is what looks at me through the faces of the people. I feel that the spirit of the land lives in its people and through their eyes and their faces it portrays its theater. Kashgar and its people are innocent, friendly, welcoming, hospitable, kind, inviting, humble, simple, religious, traditional, and very childlike. The old city is a magical maze of amazing architecture, carvings, mosques, cobble stone roads, and the people are in tune with their land and its spirits. They live by code and almost everything they do is done with meaning and purpose behind it. Down to how the door of their home is opened, half open, with a curtain, both sides open, or close, all mean different things as to who (husband, guests, ..etc) is in the house at that moment.
Tomorrow we visit very early a village on the way to the high mountains, called Opal. What secrets does a village like this hold??