It was amazing. Up close and personal once again. But this time up close to an elephant who loved me…loved me because I had food. I felt loved and a bit scared. But isn’t that how love works? Love and fear sometimes go hand and hand. This animal could have taken me out but for the food and her Mahout. She is blind and so she could only tell sounds and the sweet smell of food; and really it was but a peanut sized snack I had for her. Still, if she had wanted, she could have pressed the issue and pushed me. Even her Mahout could not have stopped her. She did push a bit, and that was the love and the thrill. The smile on my face surprises me even now I see the photo; was I really that happy? At the same time, I know how happy I was to have contact with her and feel the thrill of such a primeval desire: food for her and for me at least, some sort of love and fleeting belonging. We all need it and heck, I was simply giving her a cucumber at this point! The smile is as real as the cucumber I fed her. It was awesome. An animal that at any point could have charged me as far as I knew; but there was an animal who felt a sense of love and belonging – that animal was me.
I’ve asked my students to figure out how they would advertise a dream they have; Something they want to accomplish, a passion. Not everyone is comfortable advertising something that might be so intensely personal. If asked to advertise a dream of mine I would freeze in my tracks. No way. Not doing that. If I advertise a dream of mine, then I have to realize that dream, right? That is incredibly scary. So I default to: never mind; it can’t be done; not by me anyway; so forget it. If I ask them to advertise a true dream, something other than a generic, “My dream is to be successful.”, then I have ask and answer myself. A dream of mine is to walk across the Gobi Desert. It’s something I think about a lot so I chose a billboard to advertise my dream. I see lots of billboards everyday. I also don’t always pay attention to billboards now that I think about it…
How would you advertise your dream?
Just a few of the many words for ‘pain’ in Chinese:
pain, ache, or sore
OR there is:
pain, ache, sorrow, sadness
As well as,
ache in limbs, pain, pang
I was introduced to the word pain here in China as a ‘warning’ word for my first foot massage. “If it hurts too much, just say ‘tong’.“, a friend told me. Sounded easy enough to me. Finally, a word I could pronounce and one I just might remember. (Take that Chinese tones!) So I set off in the direction of a recommended foot massage location, armed and ready with my one word should I need it. Turns out I didn’t need the word ‘tong’, or any of the words for pain at all. (Which is a good thing as the way I pronounced it varied in translation from ‘offensive’ to ‘soup’) Like in so many situations I have found here in Shanghai the universal, ‘OK’, worked just fine as a question, as well as an answer. OK?
(Words, characters and translations compliments of Google translate…I have found that this translation service, as well as others, might steer you in the right direction, sometimes. However, most likely in this particular situation, you’ll just get some offensive soup.)
It has occurred to me many times that there are a billion blogs out there about starting over, moving to or living in new countries/cities/cultures, and, of course, about photography. And I’m sure there is at least one about Shanghai, or Photography in a city of 23 or so million people. So here I am. I join the throngs of millions of blogs. I could write about starting over by moving to a new country/culture to live and taking photographs. But who is going to see, or quite frankly, who is going to care? I don’t write that as a poor me, rather I take some solace that I can quietly take my time, post something here and there and not many people will notice. It still feels like just my own ‘private world’. But nothing online is private anymore and to think so would be naive. So here is a start of a blog that happens to be updated from Shanghai, and is about Shanghai…Shanghai Up Close. At least for now my comfort level for posting on this site is ‘up close’. In a country where culture shock didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks when I arrived, but has slowly started to seep into my conscious being, I both want to get ‘up close’ and stay far away. And for now Up Close has taken over. Yes, this photo could have been taken anywhere, but it wasn’t. I look forward to seeing where this takes me.
I’m in! And now I’m in, the pilot shall start. The more I travel, the better I am. At least for a while. I’ll take what I can get, or manage. This will do for now, not bad I’d say.