Exposures


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An Artificial Utopia

Text by Patty Simon | Image by Dick Simon
India

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Realities come in all shapes and sizes.

The layers of a culture are twisted and tangled.

I include the United States.

Dick and I are traveling on a more expensive level, which means we are sometimes separated from the local culture. Literally by walls and gates at exclusive resort properties but also by differences in cultural moiré. We balance this by ditching our guides and walking the streets talking to the locals and mixing where we stay. Right now most of the guests at our hotel are local Hindus here to see a famous shrine and the bathroom has no shower stall.

One of my favorite things to do is driving in a “protected” car and watching the world go by. It is like watching a movie. Everyone is outside living everyday life so it is so rich visually. Sometimes I just make a list… every living vignette, interaction, business, shrine, clothing, sign, sound and advertisement.

So, I find myself in different utopian situations. This came home to me yesterday in the car. I decide to listen to David Benoit’s song “If I Can Believe”, ironically off his “American Landscape” album. I am listening to music that always triggers an emotional reaction and none larger than today in India. Tears are rolling down my face as I am overwhelmed by my good fortune in witnessing all this. I always feel lucky in finding little pieces of heaven in these beautiful walled resorts but today the utopia is witnessing the people on the streets. Most don’t have much but they have enough to be included in the base reasons for living – work, shelter, food, family and community.

I now know my utopia is found on the streets of every culture we visit.

 

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Underdressed

Text by Patty Simon | Image by Dick Simon
Sri Lanka

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Dick and I took a day off – which means pool day by the ocean for me at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo.

I wear a one-piece Speedo suit because I am a lap swimmer more than a sunbather so I always feel a tad dowdy sitting around all the bikinis.

I was contemplating all this when my eye catches a sparkle. That sparkle led to a jewel of many jewels and beautiful brocade sewn on white satin draped in lilac voile… stunning! I look up and can’t believe my eyes. Promenading by my chaise lounge is a wedding party, Sri Lankan style – bride and groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen and lastly, adorable flower girls and boys.

Here I was looking like a drowned rat with wet plastered hair in a soggy suit watching a scene out of Cinderella complete with fancy finery of flowing saris, glittery sandals and fragrant flower bouquets.

It was surreal and magical but comical at the same time. Tradition states that a videographer poses the young couple in various settings. This time it means parading around a pool at a hotel.

Underdressed? I would say so! I must buy a sequined suit for future fancy occasions.