Friday, December 12, 2008

CDO Nite Café – Still

The unavoidable lure of the sights and sounds of the nite café is likened to a siren’s wail, very riveting and quite difficult to shake off. So again, yesterday before the appointed hour of 5pm on another balmy Friday afternoon, I found myself sauntering about the plaza as it was slowly being converted into the weekend bazaar that the entire city has now been wont to expect. Credit this addictive thirst for experience to the fact that the building where I spend a good part of the day is barely a block away and is thus not mercifully spared from the mind-splitting ruckus that accompanies this weekend ritual.

Thus with my quick-draw point-and-shoot camera taut in hand and my well-cushioned walking shoes doing duty under my feet, I was off to the unorganized hustings, blithely positioning myself in vantage points to catch and memorialize the unfolding realities of the nite café – of many people in various moods and preoccupation, of cluttered disembodied parts of booths and tents and countertops, and of bursting at the seams huge bundles made of tarp, plastic, nylon, etc. randomly stacked all over the smoldering place holding what I presume are precious assorted merchandise to be unbundled, sorted, and displayed. Simply put and dismissed, of various items that most times defy description and can only evoke wonderment or incredulity.

Worth more than the clichéd a thousand words, the accompanying pictures again make up for what human language cannot aptly reduce to written verbiage.

Was first drawn to a little cluster of humans, gathered very tightly around a park bench and in rapt attention. About half of them wore the unmistakably clean and well-pressed uniforms of the local university (Xavier U) and the other half of unwashed giggling tykes. Clearly young family members of those merchants gathered for the nite café. Turned out the uniformed guys and gals were Civil Engineering students gathering polling data on how early kids start using logic in making their everyday decisions. One looking-distressed father in the sidelines was motioning for one kid being addressed to not answer the questions being asked. And I had wondered why. But before long the students were on their way to their school which is situated at the eastern end of the huge plaza, the venue for the bazaar. But not before I have had ample time to click on my camera. All the subjects unhesitatingly obliged.

And as I leisurely made my way amongst the crowds and the assorted accoutrements of their trade, the self-same wonderment in the past about what they were doing and how they were doing them revisited my mind and continued to amaze me. The following pictures pay tribute to their dogged tenacity and indomitable spirits. At times doing their thing in the middle of the street as vehicular traffic continued to zip by, unmindful of the clear hazards to both limbs and health. And remember all the fruits of their labor will have to be completely undone by the early morn of the following day, only to be repeated again for the second night. And then disassembled again for the second and last day.

Until the next Friday of the next week comes when the entire tedious process is repeated.

Coming To The US

Here are amazing visualizations showing immigration to the US from 1820 to 2007, taken from this site. Remember each dot represents a 100 people.

First a black and white rendition:

Immigration to the US, 1820-2007 from Ian S on Vimeo.

Now, in living color:

Immigration to the US, 1820-2007 v2 from Ian S on Vimeo.