The Thinker Near the Blue Mosque
The problem with living in other countries is that the whole idea of belonging somewhere becomes blurred. I know I am Australian and I always knew that the stay in Egypt was finite. At the same time I was seduced by the city - the enormous unweildy bulk of people, the struggles they have just to scrape a living and the usual dignity with which they do it. I feel torn sometimes, never again quite the person I was before I lived there, and yet Australian friends are sometimes a bit affronted when the work I make at the moment is hovering somewhere around the Middle East.
That is my whinge for the day.
I have been sorting photos. I have enough to ensure that I will never run out of topics to write about.
In our last few weeks we walked a lot in Old Islamic Cairo. If you go to Bab Zuweilah and keep walking instead of turning in to the Tentmakers' Street, you will eventually get to the Blue Mosque. It is a beautiful mosque and will be the subject of another blog. I was trialing a new camera with a really marvelous 10x optical zoom - a sneaky camera with a twisting and turning lens so you can seem to be looking in another direction, as you take photos. It is not perfect in other ways - but great for candid portraits.
I am still not sure how I feel about the ethics of taking people who are unaware that they are being photographed. I know in America it would be not permitted. In Australia as long as you are in a public place people do not own their own images and you do not have to ask them to sign releases to use their images. I know in Egypt there are few personal rights.
I was photographing some of the marvelous and deteriorating architecture of the Blue Mosque and over one arch I saw a movement. I focused the lens, and took this.
Then this. He sat above the street and opposite the Mosque, though it is hard to get an effect of how far away he was. His head turned as he smoked and watched the constant stream of people and taffic in the street below.
I moved closer, met his eyes and raised my eyeborws for permission to take the images. He nodded, watched me for a little while then lost interest. It was hardly a balcony - more the roof of the shop below with a rigged sunscreen. Behind him was a huge advertising poster.
I was fascinated by the juxtapoistion of the image on the screen and with him, and the more I look at it the more he looks like the man in the image. Is it just that they are both fair Egyptians? Is it my imagination?
It does not really matter. I just find that now and again his image comes back and floats around my head for a while.
I gave him his photographs before I left and he was obviously happy to have them.