Time Warp

October 09, 2009  •  Leave a Comment


Well, I'm back at the five-star resort that is home. I arrived in Los Angeles one hour after I left Bangkok. I'm in an actual time warp. I feel like I traveled to another time. In a way, maybe I did. I stuck out like a sore thumb in Nepal, as if I were a visitor from the future or outer space. Some people were amused or entertained, some were welcoming, and some were annoyed and imposed upon. I got my first taste of what it may be like to be a professional travel photographer. It is hit and miss. Some people understand, some don't and some don't care. Children always want their photo taken. The tiny ones are fascinated and can't stop looking with their beautiful wide eyes. The elementary kids like to goof off for the camera and then they are thrilled to see their photo immediately on my live view. Older boys like to pose and be cool when they see me point at them. Maybe I'll be showing it to some pretty girls? Most people that you ask will let you take their photo, some will shoo you away with a turn of their head and wave of their hand. Then there are the ones you wish you hadn't asked. The ones that are so beautiful you want to see them greeting you every time you enter your own home. I saw one such woman in Nepal, and now she is only a snapshot in my memory forever because I asked and she said no. She was about 70 or so, sitting in a second story window. The building was grey with light blue shutters and she was hanging out the window, smiling at the huge crowd of people walking on her street. She would catch someone's eye every now and then. She was dressed in the most brilliant, flowing purple corta. I said hello and asked if I could take her photo, pointing to my camera. She smiled kindly and shook ner head "no." I smiled back and waved and was on my way. This is when you wish you were 30 feet away with a zoom lens. That woman in her window is embedded in my mind clear as the moment I saw her. And what's strange is that in my memory of this composition, the street and surroundings are bright and clean and full of flowers and plants and pleasant aromas. But it couldn't be. It was dirty, just like every other street. And it was raining. I remember because I had to uncover my camera when I saw her and covered it again when I walked off. Nepal may be dirty and grimy and seemingly depressing at a glance, but the people make it colorful and bright. I did not see an inch of grey fabric anywhere. The teenagers and young adults dress pretty much like we do in America - stylish jeans and t-shirts or dress shirts if they're really cool. The men wear nice pants and colorful shirts. But the women - no matter where they are, what they're doing, or where they're headed, they are dressed to the hilt. Flowing, bright fabrics with sparkly things all over. Women on motorcycles, women gathering water from the local well and then doing laundry or bathing their kids. Women killing the chicken for dinner or tilling the garden. Each and every one dressed pristinely in these stunning cortas and bejeweled flip-flops. It rained for four days straight while I was there. My friends and I had mud caked on our shoes and pants. The streets consisted of a sea of dirt mounds and potholes. Motorbikes, cars and buses splashing and sloshing here and there and I did not see one Nepali woman with the slightest dot of mud on her pant leg. What is that about? They must have a secret. A secret that not only keeps their attire in order, but that brings light and peace to a place of need and chaos. There is something much deeper here. Something we can't understand if we haven't lived seven generations in the same house, like our friend Ramesh. The same street, the same dirt floors, the same second story window. Something deeper than what a camera can capture. That's why she said "no." I'm not supposed to remember her moment, I'm supposed to remember "her."

 

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