Winter walking

It was only a few weeks ago, the cold and dampness of Shanghai’s winter had gotten to me in the worst possible way.

Hibernation swiftly took over and I stubbornly refused to get out of bed on the weekends. One Saturday afternoon, I woke up groggy, my heart and bones felt heavy as if trying to break out of a funk. I stared out of my window to see overcast skies and a dull fog. Grey seemed to constantly plague my weekends. I crawled back into bed.

Winter street walk 02

I have often thought to myself that there was simply no excuse for bad weather to get in the way of shooting. We are reflecting society as is, and bad weather, warts and all, are exactly that. I knew deep down the most amazing pictures would come out of people fighting rain and cold. Nature versus man! Authenticity! I thought, yet laughing at the absurdity of my city-mindset. I lived in Shanghai, for pete’s sake.

And so it went for days, then weeks.

Then suddenly, there was a buzz around me. Sunshine this coming weekend! A colleague clutched my arm to exclaim. strawberries picking! Window shopping! Hot coffees in the streets! Picnicking!

Satuday came and it was half of what had been promised. Sunshine bathed busy streets. Frowns and hunched backs turned briefly into easy smiles and relaxed postures. I counted on two hands, youngsters snacking on ice-creams even when their breath was visible as they spoke.

Winter street walk 03

In my first hour of walking, the camera felt unwieldy, almost alien in my palm. Still, it felt good to be get my rhythm back, measuring people and distance on my 35mm. Children were screaming as they played thieves and robbers in alleys. Shopkeepers joked back and forth. Loud conversations and the clattering of mahjong tiles drifted out of open windows.

By the 2nd hour, I pressed deeper into alleys and emerging in equally quiet streets where the temperature fell from the absence of bustling human bodies. The soundtrack of the warm afternoon had dimmed. My cheeks were pinched pink from the brisk air and my fingers felt slightly numb even in my gloves.

Winter street walk 04

Adjectives failed me. I was freezing. As the sun slipped back behind clouds and the proverbial mountain, the evening chill forced bodies indoors, leaving only those out with a purpose. Places to go, bellies to be filled.

Bodies began to hunch again and layers piled on you only see eyes and red noses. Another 12 more hours and good weather will be upon all of us again. I was waiting. For Sunday promised to be as brisk but infinitely cheery.

Winter street walk 05

February 2012


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