Ask me where I am from, where home is, and I find myself thinking before I answer you. This is the case for so many of us these days. We come from mixed race marriages, we leave our home countries, we live in a new place, we move again, we marry from yet another country and our children are left with a number of origins to choose from and call home. Recently someone asked my 7 year old niece where she was from, and she answered: “I am a Swiss/Lebanese/New Zealander and I live in UAE”, whereas my 9 year old daughter is a German/American/Lebanese who lives in China. Is this the face of new world citizenship and the age of planetary close connections and integration? I wonder…
Yunnan, a place the clouds and the mists favor, a place that moderate weather loves to stay around in, a place that has more than 25 colorful minority groups calling it home, a place of breathtaking beauty, this will be the subject of the next 31 days of photos. The origin of the name Yunnan (south of the Yunling mountains) is also literally translated to ‘south of the clouds’.
The region abounds in mystery and I can’t wait to delve into my archive of thousands of photos to find exactly the 31 images to tell my story with.
All we need is to stand on a seashore watching a storm brew over the ocean to realize that when it comes to the distribution of force, nature has the upper hand. We could be shaken, blown away, flooded, drowned, or dehydrated at any moment with minimal effort on the planet’s part. And I do wonder seeing how we abuse its resources without regard, when it might just be too much for our blue planet and it decides to flick us away or smash us as we would a blood sucking mosquito. Wouldn’t you if you were a planet?
When our children are very young we try to shelter them from the world, we introduce them to it gradually and with so many filters to protect them from what we perceive as harmful. We guard their innocence with all our might even down to the language that we allow them to hear. Then comes the time when they need to be faced with the ‘real’ world, the world we are leaving them with. The hardest job becomes trying to prepare them for what we think they might not be able to handle knowing that there will be a time when they will no longer want or need our help. That for me, so far, is the most difficult part of parenting.
Being alone in our world today is a luxury that my soul yearns for everyday. There are so many parts of ourselves that need us to check in with them that not doing so can cause so much undue stress. The alone moments I take for myself everyday cause such a great sigh of relief in me and I walk away from my time alone with a renewed sense of purpose and inspiration. I remember taking long trips to places like India to be alone in my early twenties and returning with a sense of calm that is not possible to attain in any other way than self reflection. I wonder if this is how a sailor might feel.
photo taken: a lone boat on the shores of Boracay~ philippines
They say when something is far from your eyes it is also far from your heart and mind…
I wonder about our lives in this century so often and how much of our lives are spent in boxes both inside our minds and inside our homes. All we have to do to be awed by nature is to see nature, and to feel the magnificence of the planet we call home. I have found that the most religious people I have ever met are those who choose to be close to the earth and to the sky, who choose the simple life instead of the complicated and who find their god in the open skies and in the tiniest of flowers. It is such a pity that most of us these days see our flowers on ipad and computer screens and how little chance we have to experience life with all of our senses.
photo taken: a couple of shepherds in the grasslands of Tashkurgan near the Pakistani border~ Xinjiang.
Like so many other developing countries, many children in Egypt have to work to make a living. On my journey to Egypt I met and communicated with so many children and for some reason, it is these encounters that stayed alive in me till today. Children’s eyes can tell it how it is, the truth. Their gaze is penetrating and they are able to establish a connection with you and to tell you stories without words.
Going through my archive of slides and film, I saw this photograph and despite the 15 years that passed since the day I took it, I felt as though I was there now, locking eyes with this boy, seeing him stare in defiance at my lens, and remembering how later he broke into a wide smile when he realized I spoke his language.
Maybe the reason we love photography so much is the fact that it can encapsulate a memory, to store a moment in time with all that surrounded it, in the same way that a statue can, or a painting, or a work of art. One thing I am sure about: when I looked at this photograph, the Egypt journey came alive in me. I wonder where this boy who sold trinkets is now…
Seeing the state of our planet today, one cannot not be happy to see a power generating windmill! And Germany is filled with them. It is one of the first countries with a firm plan to close all nuclear power plants by the year 2022 after the Japanese disaster and survive totally from sustainable energy! Another reason to be thankful for nations that consider the future and the kind of world we plan for our children to inherit.