How often do I catch myself walking in the city with my eyes down watching the pavement and the flow of faceless people passing by. The city can do that to us, it can make us reduce humanity to a flow of bodies passing by, forgetting that each one of them has a story, a life and a face.
The city of unusual impressions, if you are looking to see something different, happenings out of the ordinary, then New York is guaranteed to not disappoint you. The day to day is a moving theater, and a walk to the coffee shop can be a daily adventure. This is a place where you can dare to be different, dare to be you.
It has been a challenge to keep the daily posts on time during this trip. Arrived in Beirut on July 5th to find a national internet power down, so here, doing the best I can.
One of the great struggles a street photographer has while walking in a new city is trying not to be overwhelmed by the flood of new impressions. In a city like Hanoi, you see so much that you wish to capture and in some cases too much of a good thing has its adverse effects. At times like this, I just stop, slow down and look around with my eyes quietly to let them lead me to my next shot. I was very much caught by this woman at the early morning hours as she set up her portable fruit stand on the pavement and was getting herself ready for her day’s work. I reflected on her life and how in this life we had different lots, different destinies, and I wonder at all the events that caused things to be this way…
While I was living in New York City a few years back, I heard a story from a friend about eyes that stayed with me since. She said that a native American man came to the city once and realized how hard and unnatural the streets are on the human eyes. He explained that people are meant to gaze at far away horizons at least once a day and knowing that, he wondered how people can live in a big city where all impressions bounce back into their eyes at such close distances. In the metropolis our eyes work overtime on our behalf when we cross the street, walk on the pavement, dodge passersby and even at home in front of our fast-moving screens of impressions.
Photo taken: a woman on a pavement in Hanoi~ Vietnam
We are often asked by others about the place we call home, especially if we tend to move around the planet. Looking at this photo of a family in Phnom Penh in my archives, I realized that the answer is simple. This family has created a little home on the pavement of a big city, and when I look at it and when I remember what it was like, I know that at that moment, this was their home. For this little girl lying on the street next to her brother and behind the legs of her mother, there was a safety of being at home.
It is not our things only that define our home, it is much more the people we call family.
posting this from the airport on the way to Denmark… I will be posting as time permits between now and June 1st and apologies in advance for having no time to comment or respond till I go back home in about 8 days.
Did you ever entertain the thought of taking out a lounge chair, carrying it out to the pavement of a busy street of an densely populated city, opening it up and stretching there to chill? Chinese people baffle me with their ability to just let it all hang for a half hour when they need a break, as if they have an on/off switch and they can just power off to recharge just about anywhere!
For me to take a nap, I need to have the right pillow, one of the 4 on my bed, not the one that’s too hard, or the one that is too feathery, or the kind of not so comfy one, I need the one in between and I know exactly which one it is. The noise levels have to be close to mute, and the temperature of the room has to be right. I have to be wearing no constricting clothing items like socks and the other stuff women wear and I need to silence all my phones and deal with any pending issues that might keep my mind active and stop me from relaxing into a nap… how complicated is that?? In the meantime, the locals are dozing off on the pavement, in the bus, on restaurant tables, on shop counters, and in the middle of loud and hectic traffic!
You see them every day, at all times of the day, weekdays, weekends, working, toiling, sweating, carrying loads, in construction sites, cleaning streets, selling goods, resting on sides of roads, falling asleep in the shade to catch their breath. They are very important elements in the canvas that is Shanghai, a city rushing towards the future and using every resource it has to get there fast. It is one of the few cities in the world using the German designed Maglev train (magnetic levitation) that can get you into the city from the airport in 7 minutes, a trip that would take close to an hour by car… China has these good people to thank!