The Street Vendor

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At first light the boy brought him two plastic sacks of sweets –
Orbs of puffed rice glued together with toffee –
In preparation for the holiday to commemorate God
When street vendors could expect to make some extra rupees

I watched him struggle to keep those sacks
On his tiny bicycle-wheeled trolley along with his
Iron scales and weights, a stack of paper bags made from old newspapers
And a small mound of unsold rice balls left over from the day before.

I watched him that bent old man in his cotton kurta
Juggling the means of his survival at the start of the day.

In the evening I saw him again
When I bought a bag of those sticky sweet orbs –
four for a rupee –

The street was noisy, crowded
It was hot
The air foul with fumes and smoke

The two big plastic sacks were still on his trolley
Only half of one sack had been sold

And he was still standing there
Juggling his survival
Fourteen hours after I first saw him
That old street vendor.

 

 

For photos and stories about street vendors from many different nations, see Serious Travel Images:

https://serioustravelimages.com/2016/02/24/street-vendors/

https://serioustravelimages.com/2016/03/08/street-vendors-part-2/

https://serioustravelimages.com/2016/03/27/street-vendors-part-3/

Walking Blind

 

We followed the white man’s trail but got lost in the emptiness.

We were walking blind, without maps or compass or GPS.

That was the only way to see, to really see, this country.

Nothing to distract us, nothing to measure or quantify.

Walking blind, without aims or purpose, without goals or destination.

 

Walking blind, our imaginations free to remember what happened.

Free to re-imagine this land as it once was.

Free to remember the enormity of the crime and what it was like when they were still here, those first pilgrims.

 

Blind!

That was the only way to find them.

 

We followed their footprints into the desert.

We listened to the echoes of their songs, still reverberating in the narrow canyons, still alive in the night skies ablaze with glittering stars.

In the sound of bird song, we heard their poems.

In the sound gum leaves clattering on the breeze, we heard echoes of a corroboree and the haunting sound of the didgeridoo

We remembered those souls who had lived in this ancient land for thousands of years.

We went on our own kind of pilgrimage and paid homage to those pilgrims from long ago; they who knew that the only real pilgrimage was moving and never arriving.

 

Yes, truly, it was a beautiful journey.

 

But it almost killed us. No water. 

We were not them and we did not know how to survive in this hard country.

We did not know how to recite their songs and poems, their myths and their stories, and so we did not know their country.

The desert was an unforgiving place for foreigners.

 

 

Home

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There is something addictive about getting up one morning and moving on, leaving everything behind, the baggage of yesterday’s experiences and last night’s dreams; of starting out anew.

It’s an irresponsible way of life, a free life.

In this mode of existence, a day is a long time.

You arrive in a new place and confront the unknown. The simple tasks of finding a place to stay and somewhere to eat, of orienting oneself to the new surroundings and finding out when and where the next bus or train leaves, becomes an odyssey, a journey into the unknown.

Time seems endless. Life is an epic full of frustrations, unforgettable scenes and comic situations.

You can do the most mundane things – walk around aimlessly, play the tourist, take photos, or just look – and take pleasure in them. Everything is new, exciting.

Time passes.

Then before you know it, you wake up one morning to a feeling of familiarity – the feeling that you know this place too well, that you have been here for a long time.

The senses become dulled. You see less, notice less.

You begin to regard your hotel room as ‘home’.

Before long, the strangeness of arrival, intimidating, exhilarating, mysterious, fades. In its place comes the comfort of living to a set of small routines.

Then comes the creeping ennui, the listlessness.

It’s time to move on again.

There’s something addictive about always being a stranger, a pair of eyes wandering an immense foreign landscape, someone who is always arriving and never stays.

Ever the stranger.

 

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See also Serious Travel Images, ‘On the Move’ parts 1 and 2: 

https://serioustravelimages.com/2017/01/09/on-the-move-part-1/

 

On The Move (Part 2)

Dead Language

Every 14 days, a language dies.

Half of the roughly 7,000 languages spoken on Earth will likely disappear, as communities abandon native tongues in favour of English, Mandarin, or Spanish….’

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/07/vanishing-languages/rymer-text

 

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Our language was given to us by the Gods who created our world.

We had our own language and that was who we were.

We had names for every kind of tree, for every kind of plant, for every kind of vine, plant and flower.

We had names for every kind of animal, bird, reptile and fish.

And friend, in those days, there were so many – so many – species of trees, plants, animals, birds, fish and insects.

All around us. We were a part of them and they were a part of us.

 

Our language!

We had stories and songs to guide us through the forest, to know where we were going and why we were there.

Our language was the promise that our world would be replenished.

It was the promise that after we died, we would return to our world.

 

One day men who spoke a different language came with their Evil Magic and destroyed our world.

Our people were scattered.

We became slaves.

Some of us worked on the roads, some of us fixed fences, some of us worked in mines, some of us worked in factories.

We found ourselves alone, speaking a dead language.

Alone.

What had we done wrong?

How had we angered the Gods?

Or were our Gods dead?

Many of us lost the will to live and drank ourselves to death.

 

As for me, a survivor, I spend my days walking through the mud where once the forest thrived, unable to speak to anyone, thinking words in a language no one understands.

I talk to myself, talk aloud, hoping that someone, another survivor somewhere, will hear me and answer me.

I wait and wait, listening to the echo of my own voice,
Speaking a dead language.

 

 

image_ivaritji

A photo of Ivaritji, the last survivor of the Kaurna people, who once inhabited the area where Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, stands today. The photo was taken in 1939, shortly before she died, by anthropologist Norman B. Tindale. A far better reproduction of this photo can be seen in the South Australian Museum.

 

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