The sun favors places like Tuscany. It floods it with its warmth and the locals just mirror that by coloring their homes in tribute to the sun.
It is in cities like Siena that the ghosts of the past remain to haunt us with the mystery of what has been as we meander in its old cobble stone streets. Can you blame them? Would you want to leave a city this beautiful?
What can demonstrate constancy more than the sun rising and setting every day of our lives? Why do we look to anything other than nature for our life lessons?
We live on this planet in close proximity (relatively) and with great reliance on this huge wonderful burning star we call our sun. The center of our solar system, it rises every morning with no fail, completely reliable, warming us, providing us with light and energy, giving us life as it marries with our beautiful planet’s resources. After a quiet period of rest and sleep from 2005 to 2010, our sun has awakened and is emitting powerful flares and electromagnetic storms that can travel through space at a staggering speed of 5 million kilometers per hour. If any of these flares were to hit planet earth (and often they do), they can in the very least disrupt GPS signals, radio signals and power grids. And yet, so many of us are living oblivious to the fascination of this phenomenon and are not at all moved to investigate it or follow its trends. But I find that incredible happenings like solar storms can help shrink our daily nagging concerns and bring the mysteries of life to a whole new level of interestingness. We are part of this universe and its issues should trigger our interest in the very least.
One of the wildest things to witness in Kashgar is the livestock market. Animals are brought in early in the morning by local salesmen on trucks, horseback carriages, and other vehicles and are lined up together for merchants from all over China to bargain for and buy. The condition of the animals and the handling of them can leave you in a state of shock, but that is how things have always been done at this market. I walked there with my camera in the middle of clouds of dust and symphonies of sheep, goats, cows, horses, donkeys, camels and other livestock and as always, I was mostly caught by the people.
This little boy was being trained into the trade as with other young boys by his father, and he sat in the middle of the market, money in one hand, lollypop in the other while the sales were being negotiated.
To play where only earth, air, water and fire are your toys, to be chased by the wind, to chase the butterflies, to be tickled by the rays of the sun, and to become best friends with the planet you live on…
There could be no playground more ideal, and there could be no life more connected.
Photo taken: Kyrgyz bedouin children playing at the shores of lake Karakol
On the high mountains, you become an intimate friend of suns, stars and planets…
Up there in towns like Tashkurgan, people know what stars move in the night sky, what the sun is up to in his travels during the day and what kind of weather that will bring the next days and weeks. The smog of the city does not reach them and does not dare build a screen between them and the heavens. These people are touched by nature, they are flirting with the elements and are given access to knowledge beyond the ordinary and above the explainable.
photo taken: a boy or I should say a young gentleman weathered by the proximity of the sun in Tashkurgan~ Xinjiang
At an elevation of almost 3900m above sea level and close to the Pakistani border, the Kyrgyz nomadic people live in round tents called ‘yurts’ and enjoy an unbelievably clear blue sky during the dry season. They herd camels and yaks and offer the salty yak milk tea to visitors who suffer from elevation headaches. I found them to be very friendly, hospitable but extremely strong people. The sense of togetherness of their tribes allowed no intrusion from outside and they moved and thought together as a single unit with one mind. It was very fascinating to watch their behavior.
The lady photographed embroidered these colorful throws, pillows and blankets and sold them to the travelers who passed by the area and stopped at the yurts. She sat that day outside in the blazing sun surrounded by the lake, the fluffy clouds that hovered over snow-capped mountains and the great reflective waters of the karakol lake that doubled that magnificent beauty.
Imagine having a makeshift hut or a tent for a home, knowing that your home is where your belongings are, it is not a place, it is a moving entity…
Growing up in Lebanon I have always been fascinated by the lives of Bedouins. I watched their children play on dusty roadsides, barefoot, in and around tents, knowing that as the weather got colder, they would pack up and move again. I knew them to have a great honor system and to be extremely hospitable.
We were lucky as children to have a bedouin nanny named “Mahasen” live with us to help take care of my 2 younger brothers. Mahasen used to have very long black hair, a gorgeous figure and she danced with a jug of water on her head in the most elegant way. She spoke a language unknown to us and her arabic was colored with a unique accent that my little brother eventually picked up. Mahasen enchanted us all with her charm, entered our hearts and became part of our home, until the horrible day came when her father took her away from our family by force. I remember driving in our parents car years later in Beirut, Lebanon’s capital and seeing her with her own child on her arms begging for change from the passing cars. We froze, she froze, she ran to our car kissing my little brother and tears were flowing out of everyone. That was the last time I saw Mahasen until I was in Egypt a few years later and I saw her in every Bedouin child’s face, in their deep eyes, in their rags, in their brown skin and in the warmth I felt radiating between us.