"Oh my God, Mother. Look!" That was Jess as she pointed to two people in a shaded corner of the parking lot, one kneeling in front of the other, in a not-so-private moment of intimacy. We should have known it would not be an ordinary afternoon of shopping on the Market in Downtown, Ottawa. Normally, it was the kind of scene you'd see in Montreal. I'd been bringing my girls down to the Market since they were little, and we'd not quite seen this type of action. Crazies yes, oral sex in broad daylight, no. Luckily, or perhaps unluckily for the participants of the accident-to-be, Vic, my youngest, was distracted by the loud thump and yell that occurred seconds later.
We'd not taken a few steps in the parking lot when we saw several people running to the spot where a man on a bicycle had just been hit by a car. It was a scene directly from a movie. One homeless man, laying prostrate on the ground, moaning, blood drooling from his mouth, his bicycle lying beside him askew. Another homeless man, standing above him, yelling at him to get up, pulling at his arms, pouring water on his head, proclaiming to the world that he is Jesus. Nearby, a well dressed man in a trench coat, calling for an ambulance, and at the same time, urging him not to move. Seconds later, the cops showed up, and we, in a slight mixture of amusement, shock and dismay, moved on. Funny how, in the space of a few moments, all things can happen.
A shame now that I think of it, that I did not document the whole odd scene with my camera. I took it out while we were walking towards the market, and while I was checking the settings, another homeless man invited me to take his picture. How could I not? I snapped, he laughed, I showed him the picture, and he said, "Voila! Now you have a new boyfriend!" and then we went on our merry way, while the girls stood by, dumbfounded. It makes me chuckle now to think of it.
I just love photographing people who seem like they could tell you the most amazing stories. In fact, some day, I'd love to photograph homeless people and write a book of short stories about them. Wouldn't that be neat? I also love street performers, and, when I saw this fellow playing this odd kind of drum, I asked him if I could take his picture.
The Market is a marvel, but yesterday, as it had been raining for the past week, and it was still quite cool, not many stalls were set up outside. Still, there were the flower stands, and tulips!
There was this kiosk as well, of dreamcatchers and such, and I only realized when I was looking at the shots on my computer that these were actually in the form of masks. A bit creepy, but neat, nonetheless.
The market is always a stimulating feast for the eyes. Just look at this exotic beauty. What is she doing amongst the commoners?
Now there is one advantage to being a country photographer. You can claim innocence when you're caught in the act of taking pictures in shops where they don't allow it. :)
The store manager came up to me, asked me, friendly as can be, if I was a student of the Photography School and when I told her I was a country photographer, she quickly forgave me a few shots, and offered to have me sample their perfume, which I did! Here are some other shots I managed to snag while we were in the mall.
There is something about seeing people through a window.
We had a bite to eat then a stop at a funky store where there were all manners of cool things. Doc Martens, skateboards, hanging shoes, huge bean bags on the floor, and cool people. Vic asked me about a woman who was trying on some sneakers. "Why is she wearing a scarf on her head, mom?"
I replied that it was because some people believe that it is part of their beliefs to show respect to the men in your life to cover your femininity and to keep your beauty for your man. She thought that was a neat idea, but you know, I wasn't really sure what to respond to her question, so I struck up a conversation with the woman myself. I told her I liked her shoes, which I did, and I asked her if she minded whether we asked her why she wore a veil. She told Vic that I wasn't quite accurate in my response, and that it was because of her religious belief that she wore it, not because she felt obliged to. We had a great conversation. She told me that many women of Muslim faith do not wear the hijab, including her own mother, because she did not feel that she wanted to. We agreed that in some countries, women felt more pressure to conform, but that here, in Canada, it was purely by choice that she wore hers. It was kind of her to take the time to explain this to Vic and myself. I'd never quite had the courage to discuss this with my Muslim friends and though I'd read a bit about the topic, we'd not been raised in an environment where we were given the chance to really understand other cultures and faiths. I truly feel blessed to be in a country where we can have such conversations openly, and I hope my children learn to be open-minded.
We shook hands, the woman and I, said our goodbyes and I took some more shots inside the store of some of the great stuff, and cutie faces too!
Of course, I could have taken a mazillion more, but I am still not bold enough to be too conspicuous. That day may come yet. I love the architecture, the mix of old and new, the dirt, and even the smell of the city, so long as I don't have to live there. When I come home to the country, I feel that I've been stimulated and I can calm myself and enjoy the experience again in my mind.
I do wonder sometimes, if what is ugly and repelling does not also have its own beauty. There is the gorgeous in the broken, there are lessons to be learned from our ignorance. The paths we could take to the sublime are sometimes right under our feet. It just takes courage and a sense of adventure to follow it. Have a wonderful week, all!