Funny how certain events stay engraved in our minds forever and are triggered by visual means for the rest of our lives. I was living in New York at the time of 911 and had witnessed the whole disaster from the rooftop of my downtown Nolita office. It was horrific to say the least seeing that and experiencing it so closely. Since then, seeing a plane next to a high rise triggers a stream of unwelcome memories and emotions.
photo taken: from the Shangri La Hotel in Pudong, Shanghai looking up to the Jin Mao building and the Shanghai World Financial Center, aka bottle opener.
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.
After being on an intense journey such as this to one to Xinjiang, the return to the big city is a bit of a shock. When I look back at my over 2 thousand photographs from this trip, it really feels like months were packed into less than a week. To have met Uighurs, Tajiks, Kazakhs, seen their old cities, homes, markets, traditions, to have eaten their food, danced with them, traveled their long roads, sat in their round tents, drank their yak milk, looked into their beautiful eyes, enjoyed their enormous hospitality, puzzled at their secret codes and customs… to have done all that and more and then go back to normal life is a bit of a jolt.
There will be a lot of sharing of their wonderful world in images in the next few days and lots of little stories to tell.
Today’s photo: a composite of sunset from the plane window as we approach Shanghai and bokeh of city lights on the drive home.
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..