Over the past month, I have travelled more than I did in this entire year. And spend the equivalent of several days in planes and airports. Am forever fascinated by thismode of journey despite the little annoyances of getting through immigration and security.
Watching people – as they wait, as they look towards going somewhere and arriving at their destinations, fills me with sober hope.
Capturing a photo on film evokes this strange feeling in me: a slice of time being arrested; the moment physically is frozen; to be stowed away; to never be lost, but to be forgotten; forever left in dust-filled boxes, in cobweb filled attics, only to let me reminiscence into the past when re-discovered decades later in future.
I have to admit that my expectation of this feeling, of using a disposable camera to be similar to that of traditional film camera – was misinformed. The idea that the very device used to capture these moments, will be lifeless and pretty much useless after doing so; made me feel the added dimension of ephemeralness to the format. I have neither expected nor anticipated this, and it has left me gasping to slow down.
With digital cameras I usually take anywhere between few hundreds to few thousands of pictures in an year. On film, a hundred pictures or so. But with a disposable camera, I managed to take a mere 30 shots in an entire year; of those 5 were a lost, forever; leaving me wondering, what was in it? where was I? what was I thinking?; questions, which perhaps, I will never get the answers for.
Here are some of my favourite moments in the “forever format”
Thats the number of hours I spent last week around airports and airplanes while I made a short impromptu trip to India. This brings it to a total of about 160 hours spent around these things. The irony of long duration flights for me is that towards the end, I am both thoroughly exhausted and at the same time incredibly mentally relaxed.
Places like Airports never cease to fill me with this familiar feeling of total awareness of surroundings so full of people going somewhere, drowned in their world of unsettling emotions, excited anticipations and wishful retrospections, as they wait to enter this portal called the airplane which after hours of solitude in the crowded discomfort and unfulfilling meals – would leave them in a whole different reality.
Today I fly back to Shanghai, to the familiar hard and exciting reality of life in China; with hopes of returning in a month for good, to this romantic beauty of a city that Amsterdam is, which forever will stay in my heart right beside my first love San Francisco
Airports and Railway stations are some of the most fascinating places to watch life go by. They are at all times, flooded with people with hopes, with dreams, with aspirations and with purpose – all trying to go somewhere – maybe the first vacation of their lives; to grab that dream job; for meeting their friends or loved ones; to attend to an emergency; to home; to experience experiences never experienced before; for business; or to just make a living at those places, to get by the day, while watching others, in hopes that one day they might join the crowd, to go somewhere.
When I took a flight back to Amsterdam from my trip to Prague, I couldn’t shake the feeling of the need to take a moment to retrospect and realised that I felt some of those emotions, which I seem to remember in vivid detail, every time I landed at or took off from this particular Schiphol Airport.