26 Jan 2013

Third photowalk: Pridi Banomyong

I have travelled along that road countless times, either by bus or by taxi, as it is a pretty long stretch of hot asphalt with few shades and nothing of much interest. But the thing is, today I had a date to go to the cinema early evening at the Cineplex just at the end of that road, but I still had three hours ahead and I felt like going out for a photowalk, after almost a week since the last one. So, the logical conclusion was to just "walk" all the way from home to the cinema, 5 km away, camera in hand. I grabbed a big bottle of water, and left my room, wondering what I would encounter along the way.

Facade, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

Surprisingly, there were not many cars on the road today, which made my stroll all the quieter and more enjoyable, as the paving stones are more often than not in really dangerous conditions, forcing us, humble pedestrians, to walk frequently over the road. Not to mention the absence of zebra crossings of any kind, which leaves no other choice but to risk your own integrity every time you need to cross to the other side.

In motion, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

The uncountable stalls that populate this street (as all the others in the city) as evening approaches, were not yet present, so I didn't come across many people at first; I walked calmly, checking my surroundings, that were not very exciting on the first km or so; all I could see, one after another, were small garages, gas stations and tire shops.

Gathering, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

The neighborhood seemed totally drowsy, bathed by the mighty sun and resting in an unusual silence for a city like this, but I kept walking at my own pace, among phone boxes, closed doors, shabby yards,  dormant back alleys. The dominant color in this part of the city is, invariable, dirty grey, with all its tonalities, ranging from almost black to near white, and that's why any spark of color appears as an oasis of life, amidst so much monochrome.

Urban snake, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

As I continued walking, the atmosphere changed gradually, and the scents of human life started to awake; in the covered yards between neighbor buildings, people were running daily errands, working on routine tasks, or simply resting in company of others, unperturbed by my timid presence.

To each his own, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

At last, the doors of the houses were opening in search of a bit of breeze, or maybe awaiting customers, which let me peek inside them with total impunity: Thai houses have traditionally been opened during day time to encourage a sense of familiarity and community between neighbors, and though this has been definitely lost in the big cities, in search of the newly desired privacy, some areas of Bangkok still retain an atmosphere of small village where everybody knows each other, where the houses embrace one another, as a big family.

Welcoming smile, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

That ambient made me miss my hometown, which once used to be so similar in that sense. But those days are fading behind, as even rural areas are changing rapidly nowadays, abandoning that openness, and trading it for privacy. I continued my advance incapable of shaking off this homesickness from my heart, and finding, house after house, open doors showing its naked posessions. No exhibition, reserve or indecency: just clarity.

Distribution of spaces, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

Workshop, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

Houses that are also workshops, or workshops that serve as houses; to live and to work are two inseparable realities here; time and space make no distinctions between both of them, as we do in Western cultures, so I shall not judge that which I cannot fully comprehend. Far from it, my role is just that of an observer, who sees, retains, and remembers. There is no rationalization involved, only curiosity, interest, and empathy. But even here one can find places that have been left behind, traces of another time, a time when, maybe, waters were still clear.

The kitchen, GH3 + Lumix G Vario 12-35mm

I reached the cinema on time. But I'm afraid the movie won't be the strongest memory I will keep from this day.

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