The wonderful thing about the internet, Facebook, Instagram and the like is that it connects humans across the globe in a way that was never possible before. Yes I know it can be frustrating that we seem to be constantly 'plugged in'. But at the same time it opens us to different cultures. We get to learn about people on this beautiful planet we live on. Different traditions, ways of life, sayings and quirks that keep the world turning.
But it also reinforces the fact that we all bleed the same red blood when wounded. We all have the same hopes, dreams, fears. We may all come from different backgrounds, wealthy, poor, educated, dropouts, law-abiding and criminals but at the very heart of it we all want the same thing for ourselves and our families, somewhere safe to sleep at night, food on the table, warm clothes to wear, a decent education, a safe neighbourhood. And laughter and happiness.
Let us all remember that as we move into the festive season. It isn't about the big expensive gifts. It is about those much smaller things that money can never buy.
Time, love, acceptance.
Below I've shared a selection of ordinary humans in 2 cities separated by the Atlantic Ocean - Cape Town & New York ... ordinary humans facing similar challenges regardless of the continent they call home. And it doesn't matter from which side of the tracks they are. Whether they straight or gay. Religious or Atheist. Black or White. They are all HUMAN.
"When I was 19, my girlfriend and I were going to study in Paris. Our boyfriends came to the docks to see us off. Right as we were getting on the ship, my friend's boyfriend said to her: 'If you go, I won't wait for you.' So she turned around and decided to stay. My fiance saw this and told me: 'I won't wait for you either.'
I said: 'Don't!'"
365 Portraits of Strangers Day 289 - "Michael the Carpenter" Today while driving up to Carlinn's mom's place for dinner, I saw a few builders finishing up their work for the day and decided to stop to go have a chat. The first two guys I was talking to weren't so keen on having their photos taken, but then 2 guys came over, one of them being Michael here. He has been working as a carpenter for the last 14 years. He loves working with his hands so when he finished school, this was something he wanted to do. He was such a friendly guy with a warm smile. I hope he puts a smile on every persons face that sees his photo!
"People confuse the source of their happiness. They become temporarily happy when they get a new car, or a new house, or a new marriage. And they think that they are suddenly happy because of this new thing in their life. In reality, they are happy because for a brief moment, they are without desire. But then soon another desire comes along. And the search continues."
365 Portraits of Strangers Day 194 - "Kavaya the Painter" Today I met Kavaya on Kloof Street while he was fixing up a few cracks on a wall before he painted it. He has been doing this since the 80's and it pays his bills and puts food on the table for his family and for that he is grateful. We didn't chat for long, but he was really happy when I showed him his photograph.
"What's your greatest struggle as a teacher?"
"I worry a lot about the kids."
"Not all the kids. Just the ones that aren't on the 'college track.' Many of them just don't have a culture of expectation at home, and it's hard work to lift yourself out of an underprivileged situation. I actually just finished going to a trombone recital for a former student of mine. I used to coach him in hockey on weekends. He'd practice with me from 4 AM to 6 AM. Then he'd go practice trombone from 8 to 10. He did all this just so he could get into a good high school. That's what it takes, really. Hard to do without a culture of expectation."
365 Portraits of Strangers Day 209 - "Sive from Queenstown" On Sunday I met Sive walking down Kloof Street with her friend Palisa. They were both coming from a gig Palisa helped organise, but Sive was there to enjoy the party. She is from Queenstown originally, but now lives in Khayelitsha. When she's not partying or hanging with her friends, she loves to read and cook. I asked her what her favourite dish to cook is, and it was the Sunday lunch! I walked away smiling, but also very hungry. Good to meet you Sive.
"Saddest moment? How am I supposed to choose between losing my parents and seeing my friends die in Vietnam? I don't categorize those things. Listen, a person is like a rubber band ball. We've all got a lot of bad rubber bands, and a lot of good rubber bands, and they're all wrapped up together. And you've got to have both types of bands or your rubber band ball ain't gonna bounce. And no use trying to untangle them. You know what I'm saying?"
365 Portraits of Strangers Day 89 - "Charlie the working girl" Today I met Charlie. She is 22 years old, from Pretoria originally but has been living in Cape Town since she was 16. She is a prostitute and has been since she was 18 years old and she is addicted to drugs. She doesn't want to do anything else, even though she hates doing it. She uses the money to get high and told me she was high on heroine while I was talking to her. This entire story today and some of the other things she told me about her life made me realize how hard someone's life has to be in order to take a road Charlie has. I can only hope she will see the light before it's too late.
Humans of New York
365 Portraits of Strangers a Day