early morning on a Hanoi pavement
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…
life must go on
In the midst of a city being demolished, life refuses to stop and be arrested. Kashgar is rich with craftsmen of all kinds and to survive they must continue crafting and go on selling.
In the streets of the old city, this old metal craftsman was selling his creations while hammering away at a piece of metal that will become another household tool when he is done.
Lotus Fruit (Plae Chhouk) and the shy seller
Photo taken: Lotus fruit seller in Sihanoukville, Cambodia
the girl and her doll
We create art inspired by what we see around us, what touches us, what we live with…
The children at valley of the nobles on the west bank of the nile near Luxor carry around dolls that they sell to tourists for a fraction of an Egyptian pound. The strangest thing about these dolls is that they are almost copies of the girls themselves. They are sewn from rags and dressed in miniatures of their own colorful homemade dresses. I still treasure the doll I bought from them and take with me from country to country wherever I move.
I wonder what it will be like going back there after the 15 years. Will these dolls still exist? Or are the children selling dolls mass produced in China? I sure hope not…
the children in valley of the nobles
Sometimes the now, the moment, the present, must take precedence over the old, the past, the gone…
We were at the valley of the Nobles, an area of stone cut tombs dedicated to the nobles and high officials of ancient Egypt on the west bank of the Nile, and near the entrance to the tombs, my attention was caught by wave of color and giggles. A group of children in bright colored clothing were trying to get my attention to sell me rag dolls that they fashion in their image. I saw their faces, began to speak to them in Arabic and I was suddenly utterly charmed by their effervescence and the tombs were forgotten. Life was calling and it demanded my attention. They took my hand and led me to their tiny one room houses, one house after the other, introducing me to their parents, laughing and running around me and the whole time singing a song that they made up on the spot about my name. It was a precious happening for me and one that I will carry with me forever. At that moment, I followed my heart and decided that playtime with the living is way more important than seeing the old tombs of the dead.
That child I met in Egypt
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…