despair is a hard floor bed
They are in every big city, the hosts of despair. They are the faceless people that cause us most of the time to grab on tightly to our loved ones and thank the heavens that we have a home. How does one get there? At what point in a life does it get so impossible to have a friend to turn to, a family member to take you in? And how many times out of 10 do we turn away at the sight of despair? This image is a tribute to all of those who help, who do something useful and real by sacrificing their time and effort to ending homelessness.
sampling the merchandise
Go to any Ikea store in China and you are guaranteed to find at least 10 people (I have once counted over 50 people) sleeping, lounging, chilling with shoes off, reading books, listening to music, on the sample furniture. They appear to come for their lunch breaks and just really shut down and take a rest ignoring all the noise of shoppers around them. I am still not sure how to process this behavior, but at the moment all I can say is that I wish I was that free 🙂
photo taken: man fast asleep, he wouldn’t have woken up if you sat on him, in the newly opened giant Ikea shop in Pudong, rumored to be largest in all Asia.
I photographed this sweet man about 2 months ago on a street in Pudong while he was taking his break from work with his friend and it was s delightful encounter, full of smiles and shy giggles from the two of them. Since the street was in my Shanghai neighborhood, I asked them if they would like prints of their images and they loved the idea. Since that day I have been returning to this street every few days looking for them to no avail. And then, finally, today I saw one of the men resting on the ground in the heat of the day. It was like meeting an old friend! He jumped up, giggling, joyous, and when he actually saw the prints I gave him he was talking so fast to himself that I could not understand a word of his provincial Chinese, but I did not need to… So much passed between us without words and the lovely worker made one photographer very happy and a little magic was sprinkled on an otherwise normal day!
Today I planned to go into the hot streets of Shanghai for some street photography, which is normally my favorite style of work. So I got ready, bag packed, lenses dusted, hat and sunglasses on and dove into the 30+ degrees of broiling city soup. Suddenly I found myself making a 90 degree turn as if I no longer had control of my own decisions and I went straight into an unplanned visit to the aquarium!
It is just incredible how in the middle of an 18 million people city, the blue waters can host a still and peaceful existence for creatures that can drift in total calm and tranquility! I was mesmerized by the jelly fish today. They were moving at such a slow and graceful speed, almost like a sacred dance of repeating ebb and flow, simply magical! What an amazing contrast to the hectic world just outside the doors of the aquarium…but water is magical and it is a whole realm to explore.
I have always been a greatly inspired by David Doubliet, the amazing underwater photographer who produces pure magic from his journeys into the sea, and who discovered his love for underwater photography when he used to escape as a child from his severe allergies and stay underwater, the only place the symptoms could be kept at bay…
Huang Pu, the glitzy river
A 3 minute walk from our apartment in Shanghai is the glitzy ‘Huang Pu’ river. The river was the reason I had my first 2 mandarin words engraved in my mind when we first moved here. It is called Huang Pu, and it divides the city of Shanghai into two areas, Pudong to the East, and Puxi to the West. So now you learned two words too. Hint: Pu means river 🙂
Photo taken: The glowing cruise boats that travel every night along the Huangpu in Shanghai.
China's future players
Shanghai saw another glorious golden sunset today with the rare clear skies and fresh air that come with such a day, so I found myself drawn to witness the last moments of the golden show. I often see young Chinese people looking with such awe at the fast emergence of their largest and most popular city as if they cannot believe how fast their country is changing right in front of their young eyes. I can only imagine the amount of pressure exerted on the young generation of Chinese from their first school day until the time they take their place as columns in the People’s Republic of the future.
photo: Young man watching the sunset on the river promenade in Pudong (literally east of the river), overlooking the bund on the Puxi (west of the river) side across the river ‘Huang Pu”.
And Shanghai keeps on growing
上海 Shanghai, to literally mean the “upper sea”, perhaps due to its closeness to the ocean, is a city destined for growth and prosperity. As the most populated (about 20 million people) city in mainland China, it has become the economical and financial center of all China. Living in Shanghai meant being constantly aware of change. It develops at a very fast rate and does not give any sign of slowing down. During my walk today I saw through this door of a new construction site in Pudong the two landmark towers of Shanghai and realized that when we moved to Shanghai the taller building (SWFC), also called the bottle opener was a construction site…I wonder what Shanghai will look like a few years from now!
They say if something is not growing then it can only be dying. Shanghai is definitely growing…
The driving force—Chinese worker
Today, another blistering cold day in Shanghai, I walked the streets with my friend Sabrina, who I am pushing to start her “365” project—soon it will work!
I love it when special things happen like meeting a stranger who smiles at you with all their heart, you talk (in this case with my limited mandarin and lots of giggles), and then an hour later you meet them again and they are still in the same bubbly mood and delighted to see you again.
Workers in China are the driving force of this emerging dragon nation. They are often very lively and fun to deal with. This one here made my day!