Nature framed in a airplane window. It made me feel as if I wanted to climb through the clouds – they seemed so sturdy and dense at that height. Amazing to think that they are only air and droplets, delicate and unstable, we would fall right through.
I was going through old photos and found some portraits that were “telling stories” – characters whose personalities were as powerful as they were subtle.
The first man was taking a break from work in London style; bow tie, braces, pin-stripes, wing-tip shoes and an ironic attitude. “You aren’t from an anti-smoking lobby are you?” he enquired when I asked if I could take his picture. “Smoke away.” I answered.
The last portrait is of an Indian tourist taking a break at the Lauterbrunnen Falls (a waterfall inside a mountain – a must-see!) in Switzerland. Quiet, studious, at peace with himself and his surroundings.
I am also adding “Maman” – Louse Bourgeois’ sculpture which was ‘visiting’ the Foundation Beyeler in Basel a few years ago, not exactly a person but a powerful personality none the less.
A few weeks ago, I took the train to Saargans and then the bus to Vaduz, the capital of Lichtenstein. It was a very hot day and after wandering around taking shots of reflections and anything really that caught my imagination, I ran into Mietek.
Mietek was sitting on a bench outside of the Coop grocery store, neatly arranging his clean winter (!) coat and a paper shopping bag with his few personal possessions. He was homeless and bewildered yet, he tried to keep his things tidy and neat. I gave him a bottle of water as I passed and he started to talk in halting basic German. I listened in halting, basic German and then noticed a small Polish flag sewn neatly to the sleeve of his jacket. “A Pan mowie po polsku?” I asked. Do you speak Polish? “Pani, moiwe po polsku! Oh! Dzienkuje, dzienkuje!” he answered with tears of relief in his eyes – you speak Polish! He could finally let someone know what was happening to him. Somehow he had ended up in Lichtenesten and had been homeless for the past three months, he desperately wanted to wash and be clean again, he wanted to go home, he was all alone, he was from Krakow, his parents had always told him that each person should be respected for what they did and as a human being not on the basis of religion or race. “Isn’t that right?” he asked. “A person is a person”.
I learned a lot about human fragility, resilience and kindness. Yes, a person is a person whoever they are, whatever life brings them. I hope you made it back to Poland and are home now.