Sunday, September 19, 2010

In the eye of the beholder

One of the many dangerous uncovered manholes I met on my walk yesterday

It's a long story as to why, yesterday I was in Santa Cruz market, wearing a white kurta top with fine gold embellishments, blue jeans and sneakers. Also a long story as to why I made a two hour trek from that point at the Croisée to St. Augustine. Let's call it a spontaneous moment. One that I enjoyed and found very enlightening and productive.

Along the way, I used the opportunity to take photos of the sidewalk and the dangerous manholes—for a project I decided to embark upon after I saw the elderly man fall into the manhole on Friday.

In Trinidad, whenever I am out somewhere taking photos of anything other than the traditional (posing people), citizens stop and ask: "Gayelle? TV 6?" FYI, one does not have to belong to a media house in order to be out in public with a camera.

There were times on my walk yesterday when I sensed cars slowing down, most likely wondering what a lone woman wearing a kurta top, jeans and sneakers was doing striding along in the hot sun, taking photos of manholes and garbage on the sidewalk. Maybe, to some of them, I appeared "mad".

There are some things I do/have done which, to me, are perfectly normal, but which some people question.
"What did you smoke?"
"You're crazy, yes!"
"Only you would do something like that!"

Super-conventional thinkers, is all I have to say.

As I passed La Joya and neared the silver bridge to Curepe, I saw a woman at the side of the road in front of me. She was casually dressed, but the way she furtively smoked her cigarette and looked shiftily at me made me feel that something wasn't quite right. As I got closer, she reached into the grass, quickly picked something up and dropped it into her market bag. I heard the thump of what I believed was a sizeable rock.

Immediately, what came to mind was a story a friend had told me the night before, after yoga. Some hoodlums had pelted a rock at her back as she and her then boyfriend escaped potential robbery by running down a track. The impact had drawn blood. Now, here I was, walking in front of this woman. If by chance she was a "madwoman", would she pelt the rock at me from behind? In the past, I, and others I have known, have experienced sudden erratic behaviour by people on the streets.

To be on the safe side, I quickly crossed the road and kept walking.

Later, talking to a friend on the phone, I told her of the woman and the rock and that the incident had made me think about how it is so easy to perceive someone as 'mad' even though they may not be.

My friend agreed. "What if she collects heart-shaped rocks and she was just picking one up at that moment?" she asked. "You would have done the same thing."

So true.

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