Tag Archive: photography


My first Mexican carnival

I remember being told about how big ‘Guaymas Carnaval’ is. I was told about how many thousands of people attend over the four-day period, about the party atmosphere that ensues and about the concerts that take place at night. I was also very much looking forward to having some time-off from school. I. Was. Ready!

So my band of friends and I made our way down to downtown Guaymas, and this is just a glimpse of what we saw.

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It was cool to see the parade and to watch the different colourful floats pass by. We even caught a glimpse of a Cuban celebrity, although I still have no idea who she is.

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I think because everyone was hyping up the carnival so much, that it wasn’t as impressive as I had imagined it to be. I was expecting something on par with Nottinghill Carnival in London, or maybe even something as grandiose as Rio’s famous carnival. But it would be unfair to compare these carnivals, because they are so different and arise from different cultures and traditions. The Guaymas Carnival is distinctively Mexican; it boasts about its strong Sonoran traditions and its roots as a port town.

The Guaymas carnival is apparently one of the oldest and biggest in Mexico. It begins on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and ends at the beginning of Lent.

European immigrants and visitors passed through Guaymas’ port, and with them came the idea to organise a carnival similar to the festivals held in Europe. The first carnival in Guaymas took place in 1888 and was exclusively restricted to the upper classes. The lower classes could only watch the parades, while the main event took place at balls inside mansions.

This changed once the Mexican Revolution took place, and then over time it gradually turned into an event that could be enjoyed by the masses. The carnival is seen as an important cultural event, and in order to preserve this tradition kids have time off from school so that they can participate in, and enjoy, the carnival.

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Overall I had a great time. I danced, a lot, I ate, and I was merry. I met someone who has become a great friend and did I already mention that there was no school? So I really enjoyed my first Mexican carnival. Who knew that I’d actually be participating in the carnival the following year…

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The wanton destruction and violence that plagued England from 6th August was something that truly made my blood boil. It was heart breaking to see images of people’s livelihoods go up in smoke, to see people jump out of windows as the flames destroyed their homes, and to even hear of the loss of lives.

I was abroad at the start of the mayhem, and although social media was portrayed as the source of all evil for the role it played for spreading the madness, ironically, it was also a tool for mobilizing individuals to come together to help rebuild their communities by taking part in massive clean up operations under the hashtag #riotcleanup. Furthermore, whilst abroad, social media alerted me to the unfolding saga in the first place.

My next couple of blog posts will focus on different aspects of the riots in its aftermath. Despite the violence, destruction and hype surrounding the riots and looting, for my first post, I felt largely inspired to document the messages people left on the boarded-up shop windows. When I first stumbled upon the messages in Clapham Junction, it really touched me and I felt compelled to take pictures of ‘The Love Wall’ using my phone. So I thought I would try and go to the other affected areas and observe people’s expressions of love for their community.

15th August, Clapham Junction

     

     

     

     

     

                          

It’s funny how the looters didn’t target Waterstone’s, which is a bookshop.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

Jamie Oliver’s shop- “Make Food Not War”

21st August, Clapham Junction

By the time I went back to Clapham Junction, most of the boarded-up windows with the messages had been removed. But I still found some new messages on the remaining ‘Love Wall’.

    

    

    

    

    

                       

    

    

21st August, Ealing Broadway

I live in the Borough of Ealing, so the impact of the riots really hit home when I woke up to hear that Ealing Broadway had been targeted. As with Clapham Junction, by the time I decided to take pictures of Ealing Broadway, most of the shops had removed their boards, so I’m not sure if any messages where left on them too.

I was actually surprised to see that some of the windows were still smashed, and that broken glass was still lying on the floor. It was evident that behind the boards with the kind and sometimes humourous messages, businesses and homes had been badly affected. It had been over a week since the riots and looting had ended, but it was obvious that the various communities’ scars were still raw.

    

    

    

                       

    

It’s unbelievable to see that charity shops were targeted as well.

    

    

I’m not sure if there were other message boards in the area before the boards were taken down, but I found it a bit strange that these messages were behind the glass windows. I felt slightly excluded because I couldn’t contribute. But it was a Sunday and the shop was closed. I’m not sure how it would’ve have worked during opening hours.

    

22nd August, Brixton

I was hoping to see other affected areas like Peckham and Tottenham. However, as demonstrated when I visited Hackney after work, there weren’t any love message boards to see, if there were any, because everything was pretty much cleared up and swept away. New windows were installed and it was business as usual, as if it never even happened. Well, apart from a boarded up opticians on Mare Street.

So after I went to Hackney, I thought I would visit Brixton again. I should actually backtrack and write that I was on a night out in Brixton on 11th August when things were starting to calm down, and what really struck me was the following sign was on various shop windows. This was before the spontaneous phenomenon of ‘The Love Walls’ started.

Brixton, 11th August

Now the following photos are from 22nd August. Again, there weren’t really any signs that any looting took place. Apart from the burnt-out Foot Locker store, and some other boarded-up shops around that building. I’m not sure if there were any love messages on any of the boards which were removed, but I noticed that the boards covering Foot Locker seemed a little bare, but were still meaningful.

    

    

22nd August, Ealing Broadway

For the last leg of my journey, I made my way back down to Ealing to the floral tributes on Spring Bridge Road where 68-year-old Richard Mannington Bowes was brutally attacked for trying to stamp out a fire by some industrial bins. He died days later in hospital. His death, and the four others that died in Croydon and Birmingham, definitely represents the ugly face of the riots.

In contrast to the other locations I went to, I couldn’t bring myself to read the messages that were left there, let alone take photos of them. It just felt too personal and private at the time. Instead, the flowers conveyed those messages rather well. I pondered over the makeshift memorial as I slowly made my way back home. I left in a somber, reflective mood with the floral words etched into my conscious: “Why”…?

    

This post was originally published on 1st September 2011.

I am really, really excited about the Olympics taking place in London this summer. And I do mean ridiculously excited. Besides potentially being a performer for the ceremonies, I have absolutely no idea why.

I didn’t manage to get any of the tickets I applied for. The official website we’re supposed to use to buy and exchange tickets is down at the moment, so even if I wanted to try and buy these tickets, I can’t for now.

It will be a complete nightmare to commute to and from work, because the transport system will be clogged up with people flocking to the various venues (lucky you). In fact, the transport system, despite being one of the most expensive systems to travel on in the world, will meltdown regardless, let’s be honest. Bank station is a particular trouble spot for me and this is without the burden of extra commuters.

My excitement perhaps even foolishly goes beyond the niggling fear of there being some sort of terrorist attack, not that I want to speak this into existence or anything.

Maybe my eagerness is just due to the fact that we’ve been gearing up to the Games for a while now and it’s been drummed into our heads that it will be ‘The greatest show on Earth!!!’ And since I’m a sucker I’ve succumbed to the hype.

Whatever the case may be, I’m really excited- can you tell yet?

And to share my excitement, like a friend who annoyingly shows off all their holiday pictures (I am that friend by the way, unfortunately for you), I wanted to show you some photos of my Year 1 Sports Day at my primary school, and some others, to whet your appetite for the Games and everything sports-related. I’m so excited I don’t even care if I embarrass myself.

Welcome to London in the summer guys and enjoy the Cultural Olympiad! Relish this moment, because once the excitement quickly subsides, us Londoners will moan, a lot, and we’re good at it. We do like a good old moan, we do.

So without further ado I am super pleased to present to you my photos in celebration of London 2012. Oh boy, oh boy!

[Cue background music]

Hurdles

I was in Team Dumbo, just in case you were wondering.

I think I do still run and dance like that with my arms either swinging wildly around me or held in a delicate pose.

Relay

I’m getting ready. I think the man next to me is giving me a prep talk.

Javelin

Action replay: look at the determination in my face!

Running

Action replay: again, there’s no doubting that I wanted to win this!

This is me disappointed after my team lost a football match (I have to mention, we did win ‘the league’ in the end).

Take a closer look at my face.

 Disappointment amplified: I was, and it can be argued that I still am, a sore loser. (Cough) Moving on swiftly.

Look at me running/posing now. I still hate it, sorry:

     

Football

My friend behind me looks really impressed with my skills! And yes we are still in contact today. Did I mention I loved playing football?

I really wanted to be in the women’s national football team. Look how involved I was when I played. Next time.

Fancy footwork…? (I know that’s not an Olympic event)

Look at the concentration in my face.

Running… ball game…? Again there is no appropriate category

Cycling

Taekwondo

… because I’m bad.

Swimming

I am still working on this one.

Weightlifting

I admit, I am scrapping the barrel with this one.

This is just a post of some pictures documenting my travels in 2011. The photos were taking using my digital camera, my iPhone (when my digital camera ran out of batteries and when I forgot my memory card, silly me), and a film SLR camera I was experimenting with.

Berlin, August 2011

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

    

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Der Ampelmann

Der Ampelmann

*only ‘Der Ampelmann’ photos have been digitally enhanced.

Paris, March 2011

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

                 

“Mic check!” shouted a man. “MIC CHECK!” the crowd chorused. “Mic check!” “MIC CHECK!”

“The City of London Police claim…” “THE CITY OF LONDON POLICE CLAIM…” “…that if St. Paul’s consents…” “…THAT IF ST.PAUL’S CONSENTS…” “…they can instantaneously move in forcibly.” “…THEY CAN INSTANTANEOUSLY MOVE IN FORCIBLY!”

“It was the fat one with the white hat!” Cue laughter from the crowd surrounding the speaker. “IT WAS THE FAT ONE WITH THE WHITE HAT!” Laughter now rippled throughout the whole camp.

“Legal fact.” “LEGAL FACT.” “This is false!” “THIS IS FALSE!”

The speaker then went on to say that if St Paul’s withdrew their welcome, then if they stayed, it would only constitute a civil offence, not a criminal offence. Therefore the police could not move in with force. They had to apply for a court order first. The protesters were safe at least until Monday.

This public announcement was my first impression of the Occupy London Stock Exchange (OccupyLSX) group outside St. Paul’s on Friday after work, six days after they first set-up camp. No megaphone was used. Instead the speaker’s words were echoed by the crowd. It was spontaneous. At first it felt slightly claustrophobic being surrounded by a sea of people repeating the same thing in some sort of single organic entity. Demonstrating solidarity, affirmation and crowd mentality? Nonetheless, I found it intriguing and it was an effective way of spreading a message.

I then saw a quiet circle of people sitting on the floor. Only one person spoke at a time with some members of the circle gesticulating at certain points of the speaker’s speech. It looked like a game with coordinated jazz hands and random karate-chop blocks with both hands.

It turned out that I was observing the ‘tranquillity team’ whose job it is to bring some sort of order. They appeared to me as the camp’s ‘Elders’. But a guy I spoke with made it clear that there was no sort of hierarchy. Everyone was equal and anyone could join in and contribute to discussions.

Decisions were made on a consensus basis, the majority did not rule here. Each hand gesture signalled a visual representation of a person’s approval for a proposed idea (the jazz hands, but with less pizzazz), or their disapproval (the crossed or blocked hands).

“What happens if someone doesn’t agree?” I whispered to a member of the team.

“Then it will keep on going. Proposals will keep being offered up until there is a unanimous agreement,” the guy replied. I’ll call him Bob from now on (I forgot to ask his name, I know, school-boy error).

Their decision-making method sounds like a nice concept. It seemed to be working for them so far. I’m not sure how it would work if anything really contentious came up. I’ve been to church meetings with ‘Christians’ and they can be the most long-winded, drawn-out thing, ever! They can even turn ugly- and this is without the arduous task of getting everyone to agree.

The issue the tranquillity team were discussing tonight though was security. Apparently late the night before, a group of people came to the camp and started kicking the tents whilst people were sleeping. So tonight a rota was being drawn up for people to keep a look-out. They didn’t like it when I used the term ‘security guards’.

I asked Bob what the protest was all about. He told me that essentially the protesters believed the system was unequal. They were against exploitation. He went on to say that if you are against exploitation, then you are against capitalism.

“So do you all agree on a solution then?” I asked Bob.

“No we don’t. The protesters are so diverse, so everyone offers their own opinions on how we can move forward,” he replied. He explained that that was actually a good thing because then debates would arise and discussions could be held. It was about sharing ideas. They even had a make-shift library and a lecture spot to cultivate a learning environment.

“And the bankers in the area, how have they responded to your protest?” I asked.

Bob smirked. “We’ve had debates with a few of them,” he replied. That was all he offered.

Bob told me he had been at the camp since they set-up on Saturday. He said there was a real community vibe there and that you got to bond with total strangers. I sensed the warm connection between people. I felt comfortable there and people were really friendly.

Bob pointed out the portaloos to me. He showed me where the donation box was for St Paul’s Cathedral, and directed me to where the kitchen was situated and said I was free to get something hot to eat or drink. I could make a donation towards it if I wanted to. Then off he went into the night. The rest of the team went away to rest and eat before the General Assembly commenced later on in the evening.

I walked around the camp to explore the different areas. The protesters told me that a fire crew went to the camp to carry out a risk assessment of the kitchen, so apparently it was all approved. Aside from the lecture spot and the library area, the camp also boasts a legal tent, a recycling area, a first-aid tent, and an information tent. And forget hippy acoustic guitars with people holding hands and singing Kumbayah (though there were a few guitars. Not so much singing or dancing)- I saw a piano-not a keyboard- a piano!

     

     

     

     

     

       

      

      

     

     

       

keeping the path clear

There definitely was a variety of people there. I saw a tent marked ‘Anonymous UK’ where the members wore masks. There were students and even full-time workers. There were also a lot of people there who were simply curious, like me.  They were talking pictures and filming the protesters. There were obviously reporters from BBC News and other news organisations. Some of the protesters wanted to know how they were being portrayed by the media to the outside world, so they hung around to listen to the live reports.

     

I saw a few debates with passersby. One accused the protesters of being lazy because they were there all day instead of working and contributing to society. A few of the men explained that they stayed overnight and went to work in the mornings. Then after work they came back to the camp.

There were many of theses mini-debates scattered across the camp. I listened to the usual communism rhetoric. I saw a smug-looking man in a sharp suit deliberately trying to wind up a protester. He succeeded. I overheard one protester’s bizarre solution to the financial problem was that everyone in the world should be given £20k. In another debate, one protester simply expressed that there should be tighter financial regulation. As already stated, the solutions were varied and vague and this is the main point of criticism against the protesters.

      

Even so, the OccupyLSX group has become a talking point, and as such I think the protesters have helped to facilitate discussions surrounding our present economic woes. People are now either a bit more receptive and open-minded about thinking of alternatives, are sympathetic from a distance, or at the very least agree that there is always room for improvement with the current system. This is because of the uncertainty surrounding the current economic climate. Maybe one day we can move beyond the dichotomy of capitalism versus communism. And for those who say that the protesters won’t change anything, well one thing is for sure; you can’t change anything if you don’t do something.

To date (27th October) since my visit on 21st October:

  • St. Paul’s has apparently been loosing £20k a day since it closed on the Friday (the first time since the Second World War) because of health and safety issues from the protesters. St. Paul’s is due to reopen its doors on Friday 28th October.
  • Dr. Giles Fraser resigned from his post as Canon Chancellor of St. Paul’s in protest at the cathedral’s plans to clear the protesters from the area.
  • Bojo (Boris Johnson) is calling for new laws to prevent tent cities “erupting like boils” across London. He and The Bishop of London are urging protesters to leave the camp.
  • The legal wrangling continues. A High Court injuction to remove the protesters has not yet been obtained.