She Stands Alone In Sao Bento Train Station
The Power of One
The masses scuttle by. A single one whimpers to a halt.
Pondering, then mesmerized. Engrossed. Halting amidst the train station rush. Meditation battles helter and skelter. Calm fights confusion.
Why the hesitation? Embarkation or journey’s end? Burdened only with a purse and small bag she is not destined for a long trip. Should she board or retreat from Oporto station? On to her ticketed destination or home?
Her body language suggests a calm reluctance to venture forward.
At a crossroad with no immediate direction. Why the pause? She has time to gaze, reflect while the crowd hammers by in military formation. Organized haphazard marching. No one else is tempted to gaze at art and be late for their meeting.
A train station populated with haste and removal, absorbing nothing beyond one moment in time. All else delineated as before and after, early and late.
Lunging lurid locomotives. Panicky passengers. Agitated agents. Engrossed conductors. Whimpering children. Transportation chaos spews amid organized
Sao Bento Railway station, Oporto Main Terminal. A dead artisan’s lifework seeps into the meditative. A cavern of white and blue porcelain. Azulejos flickering in the daylight that has wandered into the station bowels. Artistic juice has been splayed on the walls, a two dimensional history lesson.
She scours the Portuguese porcelain walls, a frozen focus on blue and white. Glazed fragility commands and art from the past speaks. Artistic admiration invites a pensive mood to sideline her focus and invite a change in schedule. Old world murals become a history book standing vertical on the station walls. The record of Portugal in 20 thousand pictures, each one inspired by a Carlos, master of a long extinct kiln. The entire country in two dimensions lies before her. Crafted, creative, cultural icons of a colonial superpower. She hesitates in the light and shadow falling from the skylight, her limbs straddled between yin and yang. Hesitant in the blazing light, wavering in the foreboding darkness. Tracks lead everywhere from central yet she has been disabled, unable to move on without examination. And then, she moves on.
For more on Portugal, Oporto and on the Power of One, see also:
Pakistani Dress Elegance
Marina in Magenta and Burgundy
For Pakistani dress elegance, Marina models and describes some traditional and modern styles:
Magenta Shalwar Kameez
My mum had the Magenta Dress made a little over 25 years ago. My grandparents basically had a dozen or so fancy outfits made for my mum so that she would have some nice items to wear for special events and what not. This dress in particular is called a shalwar kameez The kameez was the long shirt that I was wearing with slits on either side. A shalwar is basically a pair of pants that goes with the kameez, I don’t know where the shalwar went for this outfit. The entire dress was hand embroidered with bead work on crinkled georgette. I wore leggings with the kameez because nowadays its okay to mix and match. Some girls in Pakistan wear leggings with fancy dresses. Leggings are similar to another type of traditional shalwar called churidar.
White Kameez with Burgundy Dupatta:
I bought the white kameez from a very popular Pakistani online boutique called Khaadi. This kameez is more traditional, less trendy, and often worn on a daily basis (less fancy- without the embroidery). The Dupatta (long scarf) is, in my opinion, the touch that makes the outfit. My mum had it made from the same designers/tailors that made the magenta shalwar kameez 25 years ago. She had a few others made in the same style to wear with plain shalwar kameez. It is completely hand embroidered! This type of embroidery is called Tilla. Tilla embroidery has a heavy Mughal influence and is done by using a fine needle and gold or silver thread. This dupatta was made using the Karchobi technique. Embroidery was considered a very high art form in the past. The Mughals were all about opulence and art; it still is, but sadly, machines have taken over much of the work of artisans. Here is a really good article on this topic:
The pants that I wore with this outfit are more of a western play on the traditional shalwar. They are more fitted and cropped like capris. The shoes are called khussa, brought last year from Pakistan. The pair that I have are not as fancy, I do have ones that are beaded. Khussa are traditional handmade leather slippers-also heavily influenced by the Mughal empire. More information/history can be found here:
For more on traditional costumes from around the world, see also:
Portugal Street Photography From Porto
Porto, at any time, is pure Portugal street photography pleasure. If you like an old European feel of real live characters this city will reward with more than a glancing blow. A stream of Portugal street life will flow for you around every corner. Just follow the stoned pavement. The setts, often confused with cobbles, will take you to the usual suspect in public markets, cafes and street activities. Bolhao is rumoured to be one of Europe’s finest food markets with the opportunity to observe fish mongers and the daily pick fruit, just off the vine vegetables under an opaque crinolined roof. Light streams in as you barter for specialities of dried pig’s heads or goose neck barnacles. How about Portugal’s mainstays, honey or fresh figs? It is all here and the man and his daughter are at the entrance to welcome you with his music machine that filters the market as you make your fresh daily choices.
After Portuguese marketplace mania move out into the cobblestone streets. Clattering around on those ancient rocks is all the charm while you are looking for what they will spill out around the next corner! Take in more Portuguese living with a slow coffee at the shop nearby. You can see Portuguese going about their daily routines, shopping and talking and gawking and interacting with the ubiquitous pigeons.
Late afternoon sun brings out the other ever present Porto scene, people gathered in squares and cafes to discuss the topic of the day. Politics and economy always skirt around local gossip and beautiful people.
For more on northern Portugal and pigeons in the streets of the world, see also:
Living The Streets Bolhao Market Entrance Entertainment, Porto, Portugal ©heathersimondsphotography.com
Portuguese Old Folks of Amarante Region, Northern Portugal
Late Afternoon Folks
Portuguese old folks are easy to find in northern Portugal. Just step outside in the late afternoon. Catch them taking in the late afternoon warmth before dusk sets in. Cobbled streets absorbing the suns rays keeps those older tootsies toasty. Now just slow down to their pace. That is more difficult but necessary. It is part of the story.
Take the Amarante municipality, east of Porto, just far enough to venture from that manageable but hustling city to meet some countryside folks. They may have time to stop and gaze or even converse. That is, if you speak Portuguese. If you do not, universal language of gestures and smiles and friendliness works as well as in most parts of the world. If you are outside, milling about, and not looking at the wealth of northern mountain scenery, check the folks out. Just be warned, they can be a little shorter than you in stature, if you are sneaking candid shots. There is lots of time to make some hand gesture small talk even if you do not know Portuguese. Keep that camera low and the smile broad and you will be rewarded.
Portugal is a small country and easy to travel. Migrate away from the bigger centres and you will find Portuguese old folks less hurried in their gait but with stories in their eyes.
If you are looking for more photos of street photography and local people, see also: