Sunday, September 18, 2011

Neighbor, Central Havana, July, 2011


The image above is made by Eldo, a fellow photographer and a friend.

This man is sitting on a ledge and cleaning a bowl. We approach him and strike up a conversation. He is neither surprised with our interest nor our gear. He agrees to our photography and continues with the bowl while we work from different angles. 

Rather than worrying about his neighbors or the strangers walking by, he continues talking and working at the same time. He tells us that many people bring their cookware for him to clean, and that he does so to pass the time rather than to receive payment. He is now retired and finds joy in bringing a healthy shine back to these utilitarian objects.

We talk for twenty or so minutes, and then walk on to a morning of street photography. 

A few days later on my way back from a visit to Hamely, he surprises me by calling out from the other side of the street. I learn that this is his home and that the other day he was sitting on the other side of the street to clean that bowl. Hamely only lives three blocks away from Eldo and this man lives in between both homes.

Only a few years ago such a conversation would have been impossible due to my limited knowledge of the language. Even with the advances that I have made, without this gentle man's patience such a conversation would still be difficult. He nonetheless speaks slowly with me and bids me farewell.

I promise to have his portrait delivered once it is printed and Eldo does so a few days later, after my departure from the island.

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Halim Ina Photography