Those smiles are dangerous.
This is Dini. She and I met yesterday at the Jonooge Primary School near Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia. I spoke to her in my incredibly bad Bahasa Indonesia, and she stared at me. I spoke to her in my language, English, and she stared at me. I smiled and she stared at me. I walked away…and she followed me. We became friends yesterday. I don’t know what she thought I was, but she, to me, was innocence and beauty and everything worth protecting in the world.
This is Dini. My little friend.
I love when I’m shooting and I find that, to my surprise, my candid photo has turned into a posed photo.
We were sitting in the Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta, waiting to leave on our Christmas trip to Bali and I was taking some photos. I thought I had Ben without his knowing it, and then he turned to look right up my lens as I shot this. Ha! My son cracks me up.
I remember being this age. I thought I knew everything. I knew that I knew more than everyone else, at least. I felt like the world was waiting for me. My boys, my friends, were the only thing that was important to me.
Man…I knew nothing back then.
These girls, and the boy in the background, all attend a school that is run by the Bala Keselamatan (Salvation Army). They are a few of the more than 2000 students who attend the school in Palu, Sulawesi. It is a remarkable school, but what’s more remarkable are the students.
Beautiful, curious, enthusiastic, and energetic, their stories will inspire and break hearts. Many of them do not live with their parents. The reason? Their parents know that an education is important, but living in rural Palu with little means to a good education has left parents with one option – send their children to Palu to live and learn. Many of these children rarely see their parents.
They choose an education over family. That is a choice I’m glad I don’t have to make.
Too sick to write…not to sick to post.
We’ll talk soon.
…to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. “
So said Mark Twain, and I agree. I think that there are other agents for the fatality of negative human attributes, like education and education. And I should be clear – some people can travel the world looking for McDonald’s restaurants and Macy’s stores and Holiday Inn hotels. They can avoid all the culture and ethnicity and find North America everywhere they go, complaining that no one speaks English. Sadly, I’ve been around some of those people as I’ve traveled around South Asia.
I’ve also had the pleasure of traveling with and around people who are looking for a better understanding of the world and its people. It may be, though, that it’s the attitude of the traveler that will determine whether prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness are fatally eradicated. Mark Twain, from what I’ve read, seemed to be the kind of man who was willing to challenge himself as well as others. Some people, sad people, do not have any desire to upend their tiny understanding of the world.
Before I moved to Indonesia, I had seen photos of South Asian families riding on motorcycles. The whole family. Parents, kids, babies with groceries, backpacks and whatever else all packed on what we, in Canada, referred to as a scooter. Some little 125cc Honda.
Then I got here and witnessed it for myself. One part of me is excited at the prospect of getting a motorcycle and riding around Jakarta streets. The parent in me has little, maybe no, interest at getting my kids on my bike and riding with me.
How does the saying go? When in Rome? or Jakarta?
I took this shot while driving back to our villa from Borobudur temple. We stopped to take some photos in a town of tile-makers. After wandering through one of the shops, I noticed these kids. They were trying to not be noticed, but were still following me around.
I asked them whether I could take their photo. One little guy wanted nothing to do with the photos. These three were incredibly agreeable. I got some brilliant shots of them, which I might share with you over the next week or so.
Captured at KLCC. They show this “Bellagio” style light and music show every night. The kids go crazy and try to get wet without getting wet. It’s very fun to watch.
Our move to Jakarta from Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, was in large part due to a desire to show my children the world. There are moments, however, when I think that I was crazy to take my daughter (above) from the relative ease and comfort of North America and transplant her in a city like Jakarta.
I attended a formal dinner hosted by the Australian Embassy last night and was asked by some of the people at my table if I had lived in any other Asian cities before. When I answered, “No”, their reply was one of shock. When I asked why they were so shocked, they told me that if moving to an Asian city is like learning to ride a bike, then Singapore is the easy bike with training wheels, and Jakarta is like trying to learn to ride a bike by starting with a unicycle.
I guess I like a challenge, and I want that for my daughter. I want her to grow up knowing what the world is like, that there are challenges. What’s important is that we meet those challenges; sometimes we will fail, and sometimes we will triumph, but we will never avoid.
I hope I made the right move.
There’s a place in Bandung called UDJO, and it is dedicated to the Angklung, an Indonesian musical instrument. It creates a beautiful sound, and they train young children to play this instrument. Then, when tourists like me come to see the performance, these beautiful little children come out and play. They are often enthusiastic and nervous and so fun to watch. This little girl, however, seemed nonplussed by the whole process.
These are my kids. They’re mine. They’re also my wife’s, but they’re mine. Mine, mine, mine. Until the day comes that they leave the house, decide to get married, and move far aw…nahhh…they’ll still be mine.
There is a story here…but I’m not telling what it is. Please feel free to write a comment explaining the story you see in this photo. I immediately felt the presence of a narrative that doesn’t match the reality at all, but this is a photo that is worth the proverbial “thousand words”. Well, I think it is.
What do you think?
This is purely a family project. It’s not a great photo. It’s not the best photoshop job…but it is my son. Today, at the pool, I set the camera to hi-burst mode and took shots of my kids jumping in the water. My wife snapped off a couple of me too, but I won’t post those here as some people may not have strong stomachs.
As my family, my parents and sisters and their families, wakes up in a couple of hours, this will greet them in their email in-boxes. I’m posting it for them. Mom and Dad, Kerry, Alison, brothers-in-law, niece and nephews, we miss you and love you and we’re having fun.
I was shooting some photos this afternoon on my way home and stopped at an ATM. Everything around here runs on cash. You can use a debit card, but cash is much easier. Much, much easier. The ATM vestibule was full of people and security guards – no worries, security is a huge industry here – so I took my camera outside. I aimed in this child’s direction, not at him, but past him. He seemed curious, so I nodded at his mother and she smiled. I took that to mean that I could take a photo.
He smiled a minute later, but I’d already taken the shot.
I love this place.
…and whatever comes at you.
We’re packing up and getting ready to go in a month and a bit. There is another garage sale coming soon – two weeks? – and too many decisions about what to keep, what to store, and what to transport.
If you have an eight year old son like I do, you’d have to figure out a way to transport some of the massive collection of Lego we’ve accrued over the last five years. I can tell you that this will be the hardest decision we have to make. How much to take. Which pieces to take. Which minifigures to bring along and which to abandon to the storage locker.
Hmm…Lego has never been such a stressful thing.
I know it was Mother’s Day today, but I saw this Father/Son duo and couldn’t help but snap the photo.
This is that thing in the playground where you hang on and then slide across while keeping your feet off the ground. I am 38, so it doesn’t work for me anymore, but it seems like a cool idea.
…although, it could be boredom. I can’t tell if he was posing and making sure that I snapped a few photos of him, or if he was bored and didn’t care that I was photographing him.
Oh, and for those of you who are new here, he’s my son.
My son and I went for a hike Monday and we had a great little walk and talk. I have to admit that I’m more out of shape than I’d like to be, but I am working on it.
My son, however, kept telling me how tired he was, but spent the entire hike swinging a stick at everything and taking three steps for every one of mine. He exerted himself far more than I did and then came home to jump on the trampoline. I came home and sat down on the couch.
The photo above is him checking out our local cedars. They’re always beautiful and smell so great. He was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over their height.