MAY I TAKE YOUR PHOTOGRAPH?
Every day I try to take one single frame that is worthy of sharing. Just one. From Chongqing, deep in China’s vast interior, “Baby in a basket,” a mother with her only child at day’s end, catches my attention. The fan, the basket, the light. May I take your photograph? I ask. She doesn’t answer, but tells her child, “Smile! Smile!”
NEW CHINA; OLD CHINA
One frame that says it all. A massive construction project stretches through the valley for miles, disfiguring the original lay of the land, dwarfing and threatening to consume a tiny subsistence farm, which at first glance, escapes your attention. Huddled beneath, the little farm appears unaware of the future. A farmer, ant-like, goes about his chores; another fishes in the muddy river; goats wander the shore. Everything is as it should be. For now. Where will these people go, I ask, when their farm is overrun. My students show me the new 32-story apartment complex towers in the central city, populated by villagers displaced when the university was built in 2002. So it goes.
NOT YE OLDE WAFFLE SHOPPE
A spacious bowl of noodles for breakfast hides a fried egg and spicy vegetables buried beneath. Twenty minutes later, cappuccino! And even later, a box of napkins.
This is Sichuan Province, where, if the food is not hot and spicy, then it is considered inedible.
My host tells me, “If it is not spicy, what is the meaning of life!?”
It is all worth the wait. In this sun-splashed little breakfast nook overlooking bustling Baoshan Road crowded with four lanes of beat up dump trucks, yellow cabs, motorbikes – and ever the wary pedestrian attempting the dash to the median between predatory steel and rubber…honking…honking…GET OUT OF MY WAY. Don’t you see? Here I come. How unimportant you are to me!
THE FUTURE IN THE CROSSWALK
She hovers there on the median, hawk-eyed, protective. Guarding her child. Her only child. Precious. Her family’s sole legacy. Swirling about them are the forces that would destroy this fragile flesh. But the mother is experienced and clever when it comes to this dangerous crossing. She knows her child is the future of China. Who knows? The scientist who will discover the cure for cancer, the environmentalist who will clear the polluted air — why, maybe even the Chairman someday!